Learn To Live Above Your Circumstances

Date: September 14, 2023

I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand, You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalms 73:23-25


Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful.  Honour and recognition in event of success.”  So read the advertisement that the famed explorer, Sir Earnest Shackleton, was said to have posted when seeking a crew for the ill-fated South Pole bound voyage of his ship, the Endurance.  Historians have argued as to whether or not Shackleton really placed the advertisement but what is sure was that bitter, cold, long hours of complete darkness were indeed, the constant companions of the 27 men who ultimately escaped the shipwreck.  Shackleton became a hero for saving the lives of his men by keeping up their spirits through days made up of 17 hours of utter, frigid darkness.

Preparing for this series, I made an interesting discovery.  The characters in the Bible who talked the most about darkness and the despair of being in a pit were David, Job, and Jeremiah.  These men had been there.  They had faced the long night hours when their sole companions were loneliness, despair, and doubt.  Subsequently, they are individuals who have something to say when it comes to how you climb out of the dark pit and live to see the dawn of a new day.  Job declared, “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light” (Job 12:22).  In Psalm 18 David sang:  “You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalms 18:28).

It is also interesting to me to note that highest rates of suicide and alcoholism are usually found in places where there is the least amount of sunshine, and the greatest amount of cloudy weather and darkness.

I was in my early 20s when Darlene and I visited the coal mining region of central Britain for the first time.  It was on a rainy day when we came into a little town where the buildings were darkened by coal smoke.  The day was overcast and damp.  I vividly remember the laundry hanging on the lines appeared to be dirty and gray even though it had just been washed.  Definitely, it needed a miracle detergent.

Turning to my host I said, “I’d sure hate to live here.  I’d think these folks would be depressed all the time.”  To my surprise, he said, “No, these are some of the happiest people in all England.  They have learned to live above their circumstances.”  I’ve never forgotten those words: “They have learned to live above the circumstances.”

“Right,” you are thinking. “Just tell me how to do it.”  Frankly, I know of only one way to really live above the circumstances, and that is to live on God’s side of life—the upward side that realizes there is sunshine above the clouds, and that it will not rain forever, and that someway, somehow, God is going to bring me through the darkness of the long night.

Take time to read the account of the time that the disciples of Jesus were crossing Galilee.  At the darkest point of the night, the winds seemingly wouldn’t stop blowing. You will find the story in Mark 6.  Jesus came alongside the frightened disciples and climbed on board, and that’s when the winds became calm.

If we but knew even a small part of the Father’s love and care, living above the circumstances would be much, much easier. Think about it!

Resource reading: Mark 6.