As Christians, we get the unique ability to live above, not under many things of this world. We can live above our circumstances, not under them. We can also live above the law, not under the law. Scripture helps us sort this out.
Sometimes we sit and wait for our demise or for Jesus to come back and end this misery as we endure hardship in chronic illness.
When we focus on God’s word we can see how He raises us above that, even in our chronic illness that has kicked our butts.
Under Our Circumstances
How many times have we all said, “well under the circumstances…”
We all live in our own circumstances. We all feel like ours is the worse because we are the ones living it. Intellectually we know others have it worse but it just does not feel that way at the moment.
Does scripture ever tell us that our circumstances have us down for the count? Or does scripture reveal that we always have the ability to renew our minds to see how we can live above circumstances, no matter how bad they are?
Over Our Circumstances
Boy did I struggle with this one for years as my circumstances sucked me into a black hole.
I had to start with an understanding that I had the ability to renew my mind by focusing on scripture, not what the world bombarded me with.
“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”Romans 12:2 AMP
The world says I am UNDER circumstances which makes me the victim, not the victor in Christ.
“…and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude],”Ephesians 4:23 AMP
Okay, so, through Christ, I have the ability to renew my mind and stop thinking I am stuck UNDER these circumstances.
Great, now I fully believe my mind can rise above circumstances but how in the world do I get the circumstances to get below me when they are overwhelming me?
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
IN my circumstances I am to give thanks. Not later, but now.
While we are chronically ill what can we be thankful for? If nothing else, the fact that Jesus lives and that today, we are here to acknowledge that fact.
Digging deeper, I was able to list many things I was thankful for when I set aside my “UNDER the circumstances” thinking.
With practice, I have been able to realize I am capable of choosing to be thankful. As I fill my thoughts with being thankful, there is not as much room my typical junk thinking.
Chronic illness is a terribly long journey. The more I settled into it, the more content I became with my circumstances. Only through scripture did I see that I could find contentment. Helped me put the circumstances UNDER me.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”Philippians 4:11 NIV
I never found total contentment in my illness, but I sure did settle into it better which helped me move through the illness better.
Under the Law
Same holds true for being under the law. The Old Testament is actually a shadow of the New. Hard for my brain to wrap around that but it is.
The sicker I got with all of my diseases and issues and immense physical problems, I could see how I lived under the law and not above it.
I thrive on black/white and rules, right/wrong. There is NOTHING about a life-threatening illness that is black/white or right/wrong. And rules, well, they just get thrown out the window when we get this ill.
God’s commands never change but the rules of life beyond commands got very muddled during chronic illness for me.
The “law” had so many rules and regulations and I just kept striving to please God by my actions, not just by my attitude and love for Him. Hmmm, my intent was pure but I was a bit stuck in being under the law.
It was like I added to God’s commands. I added more rules than what He has for us. Instead of focusing on God’s character, I focused on the implied rules that were hurting me.
Through all of the hard choices I had to make during my illness I learned that there is a bigger picture to what God wants in His law.
He has it there for a reason. We are to follow it, but not live under it where IT is ruling us.
Above The Law
Ding, ding, ding, ding. the bell finally went off in my head and I got it.
Instead of getting lost under the law, we can live above the law by how we chose to view the “law.”
The Fulfillment of the Law
“17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:17-20 NIV
When I realized the law is a reflection of God’s character, it took on a new light. The law is there to raise us above this difficult worldly experience.
While we live out God’s character in our actions, while following the law, we do not get stuck under anything.
The law can be viewed as a basic foundation of how we live life, honoring God’s character. That is just a foundation, solidly placed under us, not above us.
God’s character is above this world. We can also choose to be above this layer. Placing it below us, as a layer of solid foundation, we are above in the light, not darkness.
The layers below us nourish us so we can keep growing in His light.
This world has twisted the rules/commands/laws from the beginning of time. Nothing new under the sun!!
Jesus loved and obeyed the law, He was the fulfillment of the law. We are to use Jesus’ earthly example and also love and obey the law.
Through the renewing of my mind, I can see God’s character and rise above my circumstances with solid footing on His laws. Helps me to love them, not just obey them.
This helps me get not so muddled down in all of the yuck-and-muck of this life. After all, it is just that, life here on earth. Rising above gives me an eternal picture so I can handle my life here on earth better.
When I am ABOVE and not UNDER my circumstances or the law, I am available for so much more in life.