There are two types of people in this world: those who complain about their circumstances and those who make the most of them. Which type are you?
About two years ago, I did a lot of complaining. I complained to the Lord. I complained to my wife and kids. I complained to my elders. And guess what that got me? Nothing. Complaining doesn’t change circumstances; it fuels them. Complaints add fuel to the fire of negativity and critical spirits. Plus, it drains the very energy needed either to change our circumstances or learn how to endure them with joy.
When the Apostle Paul wrote that he learned to be content in any and every circumstance (Philippians 4:10-11), I don’t think he was being metaphorical. Paul meant that through the strength supplied in Jesus Christ, he could, and he would, face all circumstances with contentment.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them” (quoted in Batterson, Chase the Lion, 132).
Yes, some circumstances are beyond your control. Cancer. Miscarriage. Death of a spouse. Job loss. Unlike Shaw’s bold declaration, you don’t always have an option of choosing circumstances like you would various food items at a buffet.
Sometimes you have to choose joy in spite of your circumstances. And, yes, other times you can make the circumstances you want. Finding a better job, learning to speak another language, improving your marriage—these are all circumstances you can make.
The challenge is not letting present circumstances hold you back from creating new circumstances that bring greater contentment and joy. The circumstance of cancer may not change, but you can choose to create a circumstance of heart change that leads to contentment in Christ. Your first circumstance—cancer—does not have to become your defining circumstance.
By creating a circumstance where you receive the strength of Jesus Christ, that new circumstance overpowers the first circumstance spiritually and emotionally. You “learn” (the Apostle Paul’s word) to be content whatever your circumstances, because you have a new and stronger circumstance of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
A circumstance is defined as a modifying or influencing factor. Negative circumstances can’t always be controlled. Life happens. But you can introduce a greater “modifying or influencing factor” that overrides the negative and brings you joy: “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Negative circumstances can sometimes give us the best opportunities. Complain or create? Which path will you choose?