30/03/2016 - 1 Corinthians 7:17 'Nevertheless, each of you should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to you, just as God has called you.' (TNIV)
Do you find yourself wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else, possibly even being someone else? If only this were different or that hadn’t happened - then I would be happy and content and all would be well. Would it?
How do you like the idea of being a slave? No rights, owned by your master and totally at his command. Not the best ‘lot’ in life. What does Paul say? ‘Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you…’ (1 Corinthians 7:21). Hang on Paul; slavery is a terrible thing and clearly should be abolished and you are saying not to let it trouble you? Yes, he is saying that because there is something that is even more important than your ‘lot’ in life and that is, how you live within your lot. Note that Paul says ‘each of you should live as a believer in whatever situation….’. Perhaps we have got this the wrong way round. Instead of ‘if only this or that’, would we not be better to concentrate on what we can do something about - that is, the way we live within that context.
Your family situation might fall far short of your hopes and dreams. There might be severe pressures from the way your children have chosen to live. Your family could be experiencing physical or mental health issues. You might be on your own, struggling with being single, or alone after bereavement. Your job is a daily challenge. Perhaps our focus should be on discovering what it means to ‘live as a believer’ in that situation. That is what glorifies God. That is what stretches us into the glory of being human.
There is more. Paul transforms our ‘lot’ into our ‘calling’. He says, ‘everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him and to which God called him’ (ISV). We can see our present situation as God’s calling. That is where he has put us and we can put our energies into living in a way that honours God just where we are – even if our circumstances never change. This holds true even if our present circumstances are the result of our own folly or wrongdoing because God is never caught out. It isn’t wrong to want to change our situation. Paul says, ‘if you can gain your freedom, do so.’ Have you noticed how, in those times when we have accepted God’s purposes for us in our situation and relaxed into them that it is often at that point that something changes. God wants us to concentrate on what we can do and let him get on with what only he can!
See comments below:
On 31.03.2016 Phil wrote: Fantastic, thanks! So very helpful at this time. Just so hard to fully settle or let go when your core is unsettled generally and it's only extrovert focused things that seem to add momentary peace. As you say, I guess it's a case of continuing to expose and shine light and love on the unsettledness at depth to allow it to breathe and see the light and ultimately settle. Even with this desire it remains tough to do those things through the realities of each day.
On 31.03.2016 Daniel wrote: I've been struggling on and off around this issue in my work/career for years now. Always thinking things would be better if..... This article is perfectly timed. I'm feeling in a stronger position to be able to 'take this advice'. Thanks ever so much John!!