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What would it be like to live, really live, above circumstance?  Can you imagine always being content, always being joyful, always being self-controlled?  Is it possible to drive in traffic or interact with governmental agencies (just wait ’till the government runs your health care) and your soul still be at peace?  Could you ever conceive of the possibility of being “worshipful” even after being humiliated and hurt?  

A quote from C. H. Spurgeon has both helped and haunted me for years: “Happy is the man who perceives the hand of God in everything.”  Now, by “happy,” Spurgeon meant “joyful.”  Life in England in the 1800s did not offer “happy” existence.  No, Spurgeon had something bigger, and better, in  mind than mere cotton-candy happiness. He had rib sticking steak joy as his goal…and seeing God in every circumstance was the key.

Spurgeon’s vision has helped me in that it holds out the theology necessary for the person to live well–a truly blessed life is there for the taking.  It has haunted me in that, though the blessed life is truly possible, my life has never seemed to attain to the goal.  What did Spurgeon know that I am missing.  Three testimonies of the Apostle Paul flood my mind that must hold help for the soul that desires to live above circumstance.


The first (we will discuss the remaining two in a later post) is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-10, though we will focus on verses 8 and 9.  

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Paul, near death, saw the hand of God in his circumstance.  He saw a “good” purpose in the pain.  Indeed, Paul thought it profitable that self-reliance be eliminated.  Hold that thought for a moment.  Paul saw the real enemy of his soul, not to be death, but self-reliance.  How many of us could say the same; indeed, live the same?


Reality check: we are so far removed from Paul’s understanding that we have no idea what to do with his statement.  “Do you mean to tell me Paul, that when I am near death…really close to dying…that I should see good in it?”  Or, how about when you and I try and minister to others who have experienced great loss…are we really supposed to try and help them see that the death of self-reliance is better than avoiding death? 


How in the world are we going to help someone see that truth without appearing callous or mean, or like a Bible thumper?  Seriously, who lives like Paul?


Great questions to be sure!  Even though we have had ZERO practice thinking like Paul, and our culture has given us ZERO help to think like him, and sadly enough too many of our churches have ZERO discipleship/counseling to teach and train us to live like Paul…I STILL WANT TO LIVE LIKE PAUL.  Somebody please help us live above circumstance.


One more thought is too sweet to miss.  Did you notice that Paul did not say in the face of death he relied on a God who prevents death?  No, Paul rests in a “God who raises the dead”!  What God do you worship…one with a cape that prevents bad from happening or one that redeems the bad that does happen?


“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” ~ Jesus (John 16:33) 


Beloved, God is more glorified when praised in pain than when we are grateful for good.  Please see the profit of pain.  Though it hurts, and is often brought through sin, God is working good…namely, less of us and more of Him.  One begins to see that HE is your soul’s greatest desire.


10,000 Blessings in the Self-Sufficient One,
Jim