Photo above: The Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England. Used by Permission. © Tom Ley 01302 782837

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rising Above Circumstances

Dr. Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).

Have you ever felt like your life was like a small ship being tossed to and fro by the wind and waves? When we are circumstance focused as a Christian, the inevitable result is a “sea sickness” of mind, body, and spirit. A major element of spiritual intelligence is to maintain a focal point in the midst of the trials, tribulations and storms of life. Sadly, most non-believers and many Christians are circumstance focused. In other words, they evaluate their situation based upon the naturalistic evidence provided by the senses. This walking by sight isolates us from God’s power. Many Christians say to God, first change my circumstances and calm the storm, and then I will believe or obey.

A clear spiritual law is that we must exercise faith in God irrespective of the evidence of the senses and the conclusions of the rationale mind. We must employ a higher decision rule of spiritual reason in which we choose to unconditionally believe God and his promises of protection, provision and deliverance. When we act on faith and endure, God provides the strength to persevere and great truths of Christian character are written into our heart by the Holy Spirit. These transformational truths endow us with the ability to endure the most challenging trials through Christ who strengthens us. The pain and suffering better prepares us for future tests and greater Kingdom service and provides “markers” of His love and encouragement when we successfully endure.

God will fulfill our true needs (not our wants) at just the right time (not on our time schedule) perfecting patience in our character. A vitally important indicator of our ability to transcend our circumstances is the ability to bless and help others in the midst of our personal trials. This point is being personally illustrated by my wife’s bout with breast cancer. Satan attacks our weak points to instill doubt, fear and confusion in order to impede our ability to serve as a Godly source of support in times of need. The timing of these assaults is never accidental. My weak point and “thorn in the flesh” that Satan uses is the “ghost” of my legacy of atheism/agnosticism. I am prone to periodic obsessive wrestling with the question “Is God and my faith real?” and the result is distraction and self-obsessive rumination that creates a two front war that saps precious energy from the critical role of spiritual intercessor and supporter. I have learned over the years to patiently wait and trust in God as I weather the storm. God always responds by gently answering the questions while providing pearls of spiritual truth that increase my faith and understanding in His grace and mercy, and this situation was no different.

A Joyce Meyer's sermon provided the foundation for God’s direct intercession by making the point that one of the great spiritual warfare tools is to rise above the circumstances by helping others in midst of your personal storms. It is like heaping hot coals of fire on the enemy when we continue to love and assist others when we are hurting. Hence, rising above circumstances is another form of dying to the self, of rebutting the inherent narcissism that it is all about “me.” It rebuts the perfectionist lie that I must be in perfect peace or that all of my sins/problems must be addressed before I can help others. If that was the case, not a single human could be used by God. I do not have to be “perfect” in order to love others, speak into their lives, and release the power of God through the Holy Spirit. Rising above circumstances is a tangible demonstration of agape love and our humility and faith in the Lord that numbers the hairs on our head. So rise above the storm, and be lifted on the wings of eagles by practicing the Great Commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, body and spirit, and our neighbor as ourselves whether we are in the valley or on the mountaintop!


  1. This was a great post! Hands down, one of my greatest struggles as a Christian is learning to live by faith and not by sight. Thanks Prof. Roberts.

  2. I really appreciate your post with it is such an inspiration in my life. Thank you Dr. Roberts for sharing your view in life and especially our spiritual life.

  3. Thank you, Dr. Roberts for sharing your wisdom and love with Regent University! God bless you!