Posted by: Ety W. | April 27, 2008

Circumstances Getting You Down?

My sister-in-law was a parents’ nightmare. She smoked, she drank, she did drugs, she ran around all hours of the night, she dropped out of high school. She restlessly flitted from job to job, preferring to live off her mother and stay home to watch cartoons all day. She did this well into her 30s. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy with her life.

She came to me one day and told me that she saw something different about me that she wanted for herself. I wasted no time in sharing the gospel and leading her in the sinner’s prayer. She received it all with great expectation. I was elated.

For a few weeks, she poured over the Bible I had given her. She prayed with me, she went to church, she didn’t see her old friends anymore. Then suddenly she dropped it all and went back to her old lifestyle. Worried, I went to her about this and we talked. What I finally realized what that, she hadn’t been looking to be saved from her sins, she was looking to be saved from her circumstances. When God didn’t “fix” her circumstances, she figured that religion didn’t “work”.

Have you ever wanted God to change your circumstances? Or perhaps change them yourself? Do they ever get you down? Have they ever become burdensome to the point where you don’t think you can take it more?

This is the next point to address in this series of posts on Titus 2:2. I’ve been looking specifically at the qualities of spiritual maturity listed in that verse. So far I’ve covered being temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, and sound in love. That leaves one more from this verse: being sound in perseverance.

In context, these qualities are being applied to older men (verse 2) and women (verse 3, “Older women likewise…”). Yet, they are relevant to every Christian because spiritual maturity should be both a personal goal, as well as something we want to train our children in. So let’s take a look at perseverance.

Perseverance – Strong’s 5281 – ùπομονη – hupomone = hopeful endurance, consistency. KJV renders it as “patience. NASB offers an alternate translation of “steadfastness.” Zodhiates1 explains it best; “A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. This is in contrast to makrothumia (3115), long-suffering or endurance toward people. Huponome is associated with hope (I Thes 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.”

So then, a mature Christian should view his or her situation with hope and not allow their circumstances to get them down. But how? It’s one thing to read and understand what a particular Scripture is telling us to do, but it’s often difficult to know how to do it.

I think two things might be helpful here. The first is understanding why God allows us to experience difficult or unpleasant circumstances in the first place. The second, is faith. We’ll take a closer look at these in my next post, Why Me? Persevering Through Difficulties. ntent copyright 2008 If you find it anywhere else, it’s been stolen.

1 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, AMG Publishers, 1992), p. 1425


  1. So what happened to your sister-in-law?
    I mean, she came to you for help, did you help her?
    I’m not trying to be mean or judgmental, you just left it out there.

  2. Hello Kurt,

    I wondered if anyone would ask that!

    My sister-in-law and I had an ongoing discussion about this for years. At that time I tried to explain to her that God would help her through her circumstances, even if He didn’t miraculously change them. However, I couldn’t make her understand that religion is not an means to an end, rather it is an ongoing relationship with God.

    She did live with us for a short while, but when we moved due to my husband’s job, she didn’t want to come with us. I did keep in touch with her. In our last face to face conversation, I walked her through the salvation message again. She acknowledged who Jesus was and what He had done for her. She understood the spiritual consequences of rejecting Him. But she didn’t want to give up her own way because she said she “wasn’t ready.” Tragically, she died of a drug overdose some time later.

    I debated whether or not to tell her whole story. In the end I didn’t, because I didn’t want to get off my main topic which was an introduction to biblically dealing with our circumstances.

    I do appreciate your question.

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