Don’t Let Your Circumstances Define You

Last Sunday may have been one of the biggest highlights of my ministry thus far. We celebrated Homecoming, which is just an opportunity for former church members (who have gone on to other works) to come back to their home church for a time of fellowship. Rev. Desi Allen was our special guest speaker and the church was filled with anticipation at what God was going to do. Seventeen years ago, Pastor Allen felt like his time was up at our church. His family had served for almost ten years as pastors and while there, they became our family. He gave a powerful message on Ruth and Daniel. Both dealt with loss and hardship but both were able to rise above their circumstances to fulfill the purposes of God. Pastor Allen shared some personal stories about his recently deceased wife of thirty-five years. JoAnne’s death was unexpected and although it has been two years since she passed, the pain still seems so real for the family. I can completely understand what they are going through.

On March 13, 2015, my father was found dead in his bed. This was a massive blow to our family because he was only sixty-eight. We were devastated but found solace in that fact that He accepted Christ’s forgiveness and was saved. As wonderful as his conversion was, we were still broken by his abrupt departure. We could have not gotten through it without the Lord and our friends and family. One doesn’t really comprehend the depth of losing a loved one until they have actually walked the same path. I knew exactly what Pastor Allen was saying.

Ministering to families can be very challenging but it is also rewarding. They invite you to be apart of their lives to rejoice in their victories but also in their defeats. In other words: you become family. A real church family is not built without hardship or loss. In those moments, relational differences are put aside and the bigger picture is realized. Daniel had no idea that his faithfulness to the Lord would result in being thrown into a Lion’s Den. Either way, Daniel was not willing to deny God or submit to the king. He knew who was in charge. Ruth could have thought that the death of her husband was the end of her life. Instead, she decided to remain faithful to her vows and stay with her mother in law. The end result of her commitment to the Lord was that she was an ancestor to King David. In moments of helplessness, both Ruth’s and Daniel’s actions projected them past their circumstances. But would it have happened if they had reacted differently? The truth is, no it would not have.

God never promised us that we would not have trouble. In fact, He says the opposite. In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (ESV).” These words are sobering but at the same time encouraging. Even through our troubles, Jesus gave us the anecdote: Himself. When trouble comes, our response to that trouble directly affects our future. If Daniel had given up, he would have never made it through the night. If Ruth left and went back to her home country, her destiny to be the foremother of David and Jesus would have never been fulfilled.

The moral of the story is that life takes all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. This is inevitable because our world is broken and full of sin. If you feel like you are in the lions den or that you have lost everything, take heart. The Lord has a purpose for everything that happens. Daniel was able to prove the Authority of God to a king who was considered a deity. Ruth was able to overcome the scorn of a barren widow, which was considered as a sign that God had forsaken you. Instead of allowing your circumstances to define you, allow God to use your life as a testimony to others. God desires to take us from our place of desperation to a place of destiny. In some of the darkest times of my life, the Lord has spoken to me some of the most profound truths that have sustained me and guided me. A person can either live because of the things that have occurred or they can doubt whether they can live after them. The choice is ours. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (ESV),” Allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life and you find the strength to overcome any circumstance and fulfill your destiny.

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