You Can't Trust Your Circumstances to Lead You


If you want to know God’s will, you have to stop being led by your circumstances.

“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8 NIV).

If you want to know God’s will, you have to stop being led by your circumstances.

You may be scratching your head and thinking, “Wait a minute—doesn’t God direct my circumstances?Yes, God does want to direct your circumstances, but you should never let just your circumstances be your guide.

For instance, think about the story of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach there. Jonah told God he wasn’t going and even headed in the opposite direction. Here are the circumstances: There was a ship waiting in the port to head for Tarshish. Jonah had the money for a ticket. They had space on board for him to join them. Jonah gets on board. With everything lined up for him to go to Tarshish, he could have easily thought, “It must be God’s will!” But, boy, did it turn out to be the wrong move! You can’t trust circumstances only.

The Bible is filled with examples of when circumstances looked promising yet led to disaster.

In Acts 27 Paul was being taken to Rome as a prisoner. The night before his ship was scheduled to leave, God told Paul in his prayer time that the ship would head straight into a storm. Paul told the sailors and the captain, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also” (Acts 27:10 NIV).

Unfortunately, circumstances kept the men from listening to Paul’s warning: “When a gentle wind from the south started blowing, the men thought it was a good time to do what they had planned . . . Then a very strong wind named ‘The Northeaster’ blew against us from the island. The wind struck the ship, and we could not sail against it. So we let the wind carry the ship . . . We had a hard time holding the lifeboat in place” (Acts 27:13-16 CEV).

That is the story of many a believer who trusted in circumstances. The circumstances looked good but turned disastrous.

Circumstances can lead you the wrong way. You can misinterpret them, put unwarranted trust in them, and Satan can manipulate them. So always check your circumstances against God’s Word.

Talk It Over

Think of a time when you thought something circumstantial was an open door. Did those circumstances confirm God’s will or lead you astray? 

Why is it sometimes easier to follow our circumstances rather than God’s Word?

How can God use your circumstances to help direct you in the way you should go?

Purchase Series: Living in the Goodness of God Complete Audio Series

This devotional © 2019 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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