Back when Stuart and I were missionaries, his travel schedule was painfully arduous. For several months out of the year, he was gone, traveling all over the world teaching the Bible to others. It would be an understatement to say it was very difficult – especially because it left me at home caring for our children on my own.
I distinctly remember kneeling down one night beside my bed and mourning my husband’s absence. I was coming to the end of myself…bitter, defeated, unable to live well in a very difficult circumstance, and certainly not ever rising above it. And just then, I thought of Hannah.
You see, Hannah had also come to the end of herself. She was childless, barren, and depressed to the point that she wouldn’t eat or drink. Her bitterness in the midst of her circumstances was so great. Yet, even in the depths of despair, she “pour(ed) out her soul to the Lord” (1 Sam. 1:15). Hannah lived above her circumstances!
In my situation, I wasn’t childless. I was husbandless. So following Hannah’s example – I said to God, “I’ve had it. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I give you permission to take my husband. He’s yours anyway. I’m done being bitter!” Then I waited on God, knowing He was going to come through. And in a few short weeks, it was done. I woke up one morning, and my heart was singing. So I got up and praised God for giving me this unspeakable joy!
Could I be as happy without my husband as I was with him? Yes, but it wouldn’t happen until I was done trying to make it happen. God worked when I relinquished the permission to write the story of my life. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but God changed me to live above my circumstances!
As a believer in Christ, the world is watching you. I’m not just talking about the people you work or your friends at church. Your family is watching you. Your spouse is watching you. And your children are watching you. They have difficult circumstances as well, and they learn how to respond to their problems by watching how you respond to yours.
Through tough marriages, through sickness, through financial problems, and through pain, your family is watching you. And the greatest gift you can give your family is to live above your circumstances so they can look at you and say, “That’s how I want to live!”
If you know the story of Hannah, then you know that God did show her favor and gave her a son named Samuel. But it took her years of living above circumstances before that happened. So as you go about your daily life, remember that there’s no circumstance that can come your way that God has not given you the strength to live above!