It is not circumstances that make us happy or unhappy, but our attitude towards them – the way we look at them or feel about them. We are ever striving to shape our circumstances to suit our tastes, and we are able to do so in some measure. But there are many circumstances beyond our control that we are unable to change. The tendency of many adults is to become discontented, irritated and even bitter when our circumstances are not to our liking – and like children we cry and sulk when we can’t have our own way. Such attitudes is a continual source of unhappiness to us and those around us. Some of us are able to be more realistic and make the best of what we can’t change, and adjust ourselves to be more calm and less disturbed by our circumstances. However, there is no real comfort in it, though there may be some pride and satisfaction in being strong instead of acting like children. But this is not the Christian’s attitude. Change Your Attitude Paul said of himself, “I have learned in whatever state (circumstance) I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11 NKJV). The Christian’s attitude should yield real contentment and satisfaction even in the most trying of circumstances. A Christian knows he is a beloved child of God, and that his Father has all circumstances under control and only allows those things that are for his greatest good. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it: a Christian should be able to face whatever circumstance comes up, however trying it might seem, with the positive assurance that it is for his good. His Father has a lesson for him to learn in it, and a blessing to get out of it. It is a golden opportunity to exercise patience and submission, and exhibit faith and confidence in God. He is thus enlarged and enriched while in trying circumstances. He should always look at them as the opportunity to show by his actions and reactions the divine life he has received from God.
Follow Christ’s Example
Look at the circumstances Christ had to pass through:
- He fled for His life to Egypt as a baby (Mt. 2:13-14).
- He worked as a young carpenter in the despised town of Nazareth (Mk. 6:3; Jn. 1:46).
- He had no place to lay His head in manhood (Mt. 8:20);
- His friends thought He was crazy (Mk. 3:21);
- He was called a demoniac by the crowd (Jn. 8:48);
- He endured mockings, scoffing and hostility (Mt. 27:29; Heb. 12:3).
He received all these circumstances from His Father’s hand without being ruffled, and found in them the opportunity to manifest His divine nature.
Today each child of God has been made a partaker of that same divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). He has Christ as his life. Every circumstance he is passing through is a God-given opportunity to live out that divine life in his actions and reactions – to let Christ, who is his life, take over his whole being and live out His life through him. This is exactly what Paul meant when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
A Christian attitude towards life’s circumstances gives us a different outlook towards everything! No longer are they looked at as provoking, trying and distasteful, but as golden opportunities to develop our God-given roles as sons of God “as lights in the world … in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15).
Start Giving Thanks
Even afflictions in the Christian’s pathway, when looked at with a Christian attitude, become not an occasion for complaints but for thanksgiving. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Th.5:16-18).
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
It is this positive Christian attitude that yields true comfort and contentment in the child of God, however trying the circumstances may be to the natural man. Everything is viewed as coming from the tender hands of a loving Father and is another opportunity to learn lessons in self-control, patience, faith and obedience – and gain a rich blessing from his Father’s hands for his soul now, and “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” hereafter.
Remember, it is not your outward circumstances that make you happy or unhappy, but your inward attitude towards them, and towards God in them.
E. C. Hadley began Grace & Truth Publishing in 1931. Since that time amost 1.2 billion tracts have been printed and mailed or shipped to distributors in 80+ countries and in 12 languages. He began Grace & Truth Magazine in 1933, and was its editor for 46 years. This timely article first appeared as one of a series of pamphlets entitled Meat In Due Season, which was distributed from 1951-1979.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org