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How to Handle Difficult Circumstances

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
July 3, 2023 12:00 am

How to Handle Difficult Circumstances

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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July 3, 2023 12:00 am

How does God help us deal with the tension and stress of tough times?

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, July 3rd. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? If your answer centers on altering a bad situation, today's podcast helps you get a godly perspective on how to handle difficult circumstances. How do you handle those very difficult circumstances in your life? I mean circumstances that cause you pain, stress, tension, heartache, burdens. It can come from all different directions. It can sometimes be the result of something going on in your family.

It can be the result of something with your health. It may be your work, whatever your work, a vocation may be. It could be that it has to do with your children, your relationships, or it could be a relationship to God Himself. But somehow there's trouble, there's tension, there's stress, there's doubt, there's fear, there's anxiety, and you have to deal with it over and over and over again.

Now most of us would like to be able to eliminate them for good, but the truth is we cannot. For the simple reason, this is a world in which you and I live. There's going to be conflict, misunderstanding, anger, bitterness, resentment, hostility, all kinds of things that happen, along with our health. So what we have to do is decide how we're going to respond. If you respond incorrectly, you're going to be discouraged, you find yourself defeated in your spirit, and ultimately it can destroy you if you're not careful. So what I want to talk about is simply this, how to handle those difficult circumstances. So I want you to turn, if you will, to Philippians chapter one, and I want to say right up front, listen carefully. This is God's instruction book on how to live in good times and how to live in bad times.

How to go through times of joy and peace and happiness and live on a mountaintop, and how, on the other hand, to walk through the valley. When everything about you looks negative, everything about you looks dark, all of your future looks like a dark tunnel, and nothing about you seems to be good whatsoever, and the pain in your physical body or the pain in your heart are such that there's no possible way that could be anything good could come out of that. And what I want to challenge you to do is to listen to what God has to say about you and about Him and about your relationship to Him, because God, listen, He does not want you defeated by any circumstance, no matter what it is. You say, but you don't know about the divorce in my life. God knows. You don't know about the sickness that I'm suffering. God knows. You don't know how I have been mistreated and how I have been accused and falsely maligned and how I have been neglected and how I felt so rejected. God knows all of that. The question is, do you want to know how to handle those circumstances when they can be the most painful and the most difficult? Well, I can give you an answer because it's in the Word of God. And remember this, principles don't change.

My circumstances may change. Principles don't change. They're divine principles, not the thoughts of men. So I want us to read this passage as a background, remembering that Paul wrote to the Philippian church when he was in a Roman prison. Listen to what he says beginning in this 12th verse of chapter one. Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned up for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well-known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren trusting in the Lord, because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the Word of God without fear, some to be sure of preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will. The latter do it out of love knowing that I'm appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice. For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Now you say, well, what does that have to do with God enabling me to somehow overcome these troubling circumstances that have me full of frustration, full of anxiety, and doubting God at this particular point?

I want to give you three principles. Principle number one, when these times come in your life, listen carefully, focus upon Christ, not the circumstance. You say, well, you're telling me that in this troublesome time in my life that I'm just to forget it. I can't forget it.

No, I'm not saying forget it. I'm saying in the midst of it, in the hurt and the pain and the misunderstanding of it, in those times when you're full of doubts and fears, here's what I'm saying. By focusing upon Christ, I mean this, that listen, what governs your thoughts at that time are not your circumstances, but your relationship to Jesus Christ, the Christ who died for you on the cross, the Christ who has forgiven you of your sin, the Christ who's living on the inside of you, who loves you, who cares for you, who's enveloped you in His love no matter whether you feel it or not.

And so to focus upon Christ simply means this, in the midst of my difficulties and my hardship, He's uppermost in my thinking. I'm thinking about Him as my deliverer. I'm thinking about Him as my healer. I'm thinking about Him as my guide.

I'm thinking about Him about His care for me. Focusing upon Christ, not the circumstances. Now, agree that it's natural to think about the circumstance and especially the more painful it is.

And you and I know that whatever screams the loudest gets our attention. Wherever we hurt the most is where we focus our attention. And whatever is unyielding and constant in our troublesome time is what causes us to focus there the most. But what I want you to see is this, that the key to overcoming these troublesome times is to focus upon Christ, not that. You say, but you don't like the kind of pain I have.

You don't know where I am or what I'm into and what's always on my mind. I do understand this much, that you can go through troublesome times that are absolutely overbearing and overwhelming. But I also know that the Christ who lives within you is there, listen, is there. You can focus upon Him. You can keep Him uppermost in your thinking. And you can, listen, and you can feel all these difficulties and hardships. Listen, in the awareness of the presence of the living Christ who loves you and cares for you. Yes, you can.

Difficult, yes, but yes, you can. Now think for just a moment the nature of Paul's difficulty at this point. Now, as we said, he's a prisoner.

No real genuine hope that he'll ever get out of prison. So when you say, all right, how did he respond? Well, look at this if you will and follow these few verses I want to give you. Look at the first chapter. Let's reread this 18th verse.

Here's what he said. This is his response to his very difficult trying circumstance. Verse 18, what then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Second chapter, 18th verse. He says, you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. Third chapter, verse one. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things again to you is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Fourth chapter, fourth verse. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will rejoice. Here's a man who's going through circumstances that you and I cannot even imagine, and at the same time what is he talking about? Rejoicing in the Lord. He's learned to be content. You know why? Because the apostle Paul had set his focus upon Christ and not his circumstances.

How do I know that? In the midst of this most trying circumstance of his life, where is his focus? Not upon the things that would hurt him, not upon the things that would damage him in any way. His focus is upon Christ. And if you notice in this first chapter, look at what he talks about. Verse 15, something to be sure of preaching, Christ. And he says in verse 17, the former proclaim Christ. Verse 18, what then, only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. His focus is upon Christ.

Now listen carefully. You say, but you don't know what I'm going through. It doesn't make any difference what you're going through. It doesn't make any difference what the circumstance you have within you, the power to focus upon the Son of God, upon Christ, living within you, because listen, he would never allow you to go through anything without him.

What did he say? He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. That doesn't mean that God's up in heaven with a telescope looking in and finally finding you down here somewhere, but rather he's living on the inside of you, his arms wrapped around you. Listen, covering you with his love. And his love does not mean no suffering. His love and his care does not mean no heartache, no troubles, no trials.

And the Apostle Paul is certainly an example of that. So whatever you're facing, get your focus off of the point of frustration, the point, listen, of suffering and get it on him. When you set your focus upon him, here's what happens.

You mark it down. The pain eases to some degree. Your heart is in courage and your faith becomes stronger.

Why? Because that's one of the principles. When you deal with those difficult times, the Father will see you through it. Principle number one, focus upon Christ, not the circumstances. Principle number two, that is we focus upon the sovereignty of God, not upon the will of man. When you focus on the sovereignty of God, let me explain what that means.

That means the Bible says that God has established his throne in the heavens and his sovereignty rules over all, over all things, all people at all times. Do we understand why he allows some of the things that happen to happen? No, we don't. Do we understand his motives always? No, but then we know that deep down inside it's love. Do we understand his ways and his timing?

No, we don't. But the sovereignty of God means that he is in absolute control, which means this. And this is the reason we can face any circumstance no matter what it is. Because he's in absolute control, we know that whatever comes our way, he must allow it. Before anything can touch one of his children, it has to go through the shield of his permissive will in our life. He can stop anything.

He can begin anything. Listen, only when you and I get to heaven if we get into information about this past earth, and I don't know that we're going to be up there looking back and saying, wow, look at that. Look what God did then. You know what? It's going to be so fantastic when we get there. The last thing we want to think about is what's going on down here or what has been going on down here.

What I want you to see is this. All of us face circumstances in our life we're not even aware of. He saves us from, protects us in situations we don't even realize we're in danger. So therefore, because he's a sovereign God, this is the reason we can focus on him and not on the point of our pain. Because we know first of all, he loves us unconditionally, that he's in absolute control of every single part and every aspect of our life, that he has everything is under his final authority, and that everything that comes our way comes by his permissive will, and that no matter what goes on in our life, he knows how to turn something good in that no matter what. God is willing to work something good in every trying circumstance we have.

Now we have to respond rightly. If we come to these difficult things that we can't handle oftentimes in our own strength, and listen, and we turn to him in desperation, crying out to God for his deliverance to help us, to enable us, or we can get resentful, bitter, doubtful, hostile, angry, give up, quit, walk away, then you know what we do? We allow a wonderful opportunity to defeat us because no matter what circumstance you're living in, what you're going through, God has something better. But you must remember, he's the one who's in control. If you look at your enemies and say they're in control, you're defeated. Now, second principle was and is, you focus, listen, not upon your circumstances, you focus upon the sovereignty of God, not the will of man. Listen, third principle is this. And that is, we're to focus upon the positive results, not our personal pain.

The positive results, not our personal pain. You say, but you don't know what I'm going through. God does. You don't know how it hurts. God does. It's unbearable.

Not quite. It may feel like it, but God is not going to let it be unbearable. You remember, for example, what he says about temptation?

The same thing is true about every aspect of life. He says, our temptations are common to all men, but God who is able will not allow you to be tempted above what you're able. God is always involved in every single aspect of the believer's life. And so he sees where you are. He feels the pain. He knows the pain. He understands the hurt and rejection. You and I can't face anything he hasn't already faced. So when he comes to deliver us, encourage us, and build us up, and enable us, listen, he's coming out of experience. You can't ever say, but God, you don't understand. Yes, he does. He's omniscient.

Well, God, then if you are, why don't you deliver me? He's in the process. What do I have to learn? Just wait patiently.

You'll learn. And oftentimes, we're so distracted by what we think hurts us because of what somebody's trying to do to us, we miss the most awesome opportunities imaginable because God who loves us is doing exactly what he said. What is he doing? He's turning our difficulties and our hardship and our pain into something good.

Why? Because we learn to focus upon Christ, not what hurts us. We focus upon the sovereignty, the control of God, not who's after us. We focus upon the positive results.

We look in search for those good things that are happening. Because how does God mold character? How does he build character? He builds and molds character through pain and hardship and suffering and trial and difficulty. That's what made the Apostle Paul the man that he was as he listened to the Holy Spirit in those times. That's what will make you the person God wants you to be when you respond in faith and your focus is right. And I can say again and again and again, the key to the Christian life is the right focus to live the Christian life. By faith, our focus is on Him, not things, not people, not promises, not hopes.

Our focus is upon Him. But it all boils down to this. In the midst of our circumstances, we come to those forks in the road.

Say, what do you mean about fork in the road? I mean there are those times in our life where we have two choices. One choice is to become negative, doubtful, resentful, and blame God. And the other is to trust Him and to focus on Him and to believe that He has something fantastic in mind for us. And though nobody else may believe that, and you may say, well, you know, I know that God has something good in my life. Well, what's, what's, well, if God was so good, why does He do so? Listen, don't allow someone else to tell you what God ought to be doing in your life. There is only one person who knows what God ought to be doing in your life, and that's God Himself.

Anytime you find yourself in some difficult circumstance, the living God who loves you is up to something good. Someone asks you a question. What circumstance in your life today would you change if you had the privilege? You say, I don't even have to think but a second.

Oh, exactly what I'd change. Let me ask you this. If you knew, not knew the details, but if you knew that God was working something good in your pain, your heartache, your persecution, your stress, your trouble, your trial, if you knew He was working something good in that, would you be willing to say to Him, Lord, here I am. I surrender my circumstance to You. I surrender my total being to You. I want You to have Your way because I don't want to miss what You've got in mind. Could you say that to Him? Listen carefully.

If you want the Father to work out His best in your life and do for you what you could never imagine, give Him the privilege of demonstrating what a sovereign holy loving God can do in your life, training you, equipping you, enabling you, building into you those character qualities in your troublesome times that make it possible for Him to accomplish His will and His purpose in your life. And one of these days you're going to look back and you're going to say, you know what, I heard O Stanley tell me that, but I didn't believe that. I remember sitting out there thinking, you know what, not me. You're going to be surprised. All he's waiting for is for you to say, Father, I don't like it.

I don't understand it. I hurt, but I'm going to trust you. I'm going to trust you to do what you said.

Cause all my situations and circumstances to come out ultimately for my good. You'll never be sorry. You'll always be grateful. Thank you for listening to How to Handle Difficult Circumstances. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-03 02:46:24 / 2023-07-03 02:54:10 / 8

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