I found myself a few days ago using the common expression: “I am well under the circumstances”. I have said that many times before and on the surface there is nothing essentially wrong with that statement.
But let’s reflect for a moment on what I am really saying when I say I am well “under” the circumstances.
The first question that comes to mind is “What circumstances”? In the immediate context it was in reference to the difficulties we as a nation now face coupled with the challenge of being a man that seeks righteousness in action – I possess it already by imputation – when everything around me seems to be pulling me away from that goal.
The second question is why am I “under the circumstances”? As a christian should I not be above them? The answer is yes, I should be above my circumstances. Being under shows that I am subject to them and I am living a defeated life, a life that has mastery over me.
How then am I to live?
For the answer let’s look into the life of David a man after God’s own heart.
David was a man that knew difficult circumstances. He was hunted by king Saul early in his life and in later years as his own kingdom was established, by his son Absalom. He had to flee away from these two men in order to survive, yet “under” these circumstances he wrote:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” .The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 9:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles
Now, I don’t know if he wrote the Psalm above while being pursued by one of these men. Certainly according to Psalm 11 which together with Psalm 9 -15 can be viewed as a “septenary series” according to H. A. Ironsides, he was about to be pursued by an enemy or enemies and makes the case that his refuge is in Yahweh, not in man made fortresses.
But this was David’s heart, a heart of praise and faith in God in all his circumstances. David knew how to live above his circumstances, not in the rarified oxygen deprived air of self-righteousness so common today among those who are “…snared in the work of their own hands”. He knew how to live and lived in view of this simple fact:
“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.”The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 11:4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
How then am I to live?
Here is one way: when I am asked how I am doing I will say: “I am doing well. God is in his Throne”. And if wisdom allows I will add:
“(and)…the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 9:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.