You Can’t Control Your Circumstances, but You Can Control Your Focus

I am a self-confessed weather nerd.

That’s not to say that I know all the in’s and out’s of how weather happens; I’m not well versed in how cold and warm fronts work, what different kinds of clouds represent, and how to thoroughly read a barometer. It is to say, though, that I keep a tight watch on the current and upcoming conditions.

The other humans that live in my home jokingly call this being “weather aware.” And they know that dad is very, very aware. Perhaps that comes from growing up right in the middle of Tornado Alley and seemingly always watching the sky during the late spring and summer months, but even now, checking the weather is a regular occurrence for me on a daily basis. That’s not, of course, because I can control the weather; it’s so that I can react to the weather that’s coming.

In other words, weather is something that happens to us.

Of course, weather isn’t the only thing that happens to us. A thousand things every day happen to us. Some of those things are big; most of them are small things. But whether big or small, the principle remains the same – that when it comes to our circumstances, we have very, very little actual control. Like the weather, our circumstances happen to us.

How might we deal with that reality?

Well, we might seek to insulate ourselves as much as possible. We could retreat into our personal bunkers, determined to shut out those potentially threatening circumstances even if it means living in a constant state of apprehension.

On the other hand, we might just shrug our shoulders and live in an “Oh well!” kind of way. We could throw caution to the wind and abandon any kind of responsibility because we can’t control what happens to us anyway.

Or there is the third option, which is much closer to what the Bible tells us to do. That option is the way of faith; it’s a way that accepts two realities at the same time, which lead us to one conclusion:

Reality 1: We cannot control our circumstances.

Reality 2: God can, and He loves us.

Conclusion: We ought to spend our energy less on controlling our circumstances and more on controlling our focus.

No, we cannot control our circumstances. The thunderclouds roll in just like the sunny days whether we want them to or not, and no amount of effort or anxiety can stop them. But our God controls both the rain and the sun. Not only that, but the individual details of all our lives, whether we are princes or paupers:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
    wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
    he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him” (Daniel 2:20-22).

This same God who raises up nations and brings them to ruin, the same one who named the stars and holds them in orbit, is the God who cares for the birds and flowers and gave the life of His Son for us. He loves us.

So in faith, we do not seek to manipulate all our circumstances, but instead we choose to spend our energy making sure our focus is on that God who loves us rather than on our circumstances:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2).

Christian, today if you are very aware of how little control you have of your circumstances; if you acutely feel all that is happening to you, then there is a better place for your energy than anxiety. When you know you can’t control your circumstances, control your focus in faith.

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