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The Challenge: Unchangeable Circumstances

The Challenge: Unchangeable Circumstances

HAS your life been taken over by a chronic illness? a divorce? the loss of a loved one? When confronted with unchangeable circumstances, you may feel unable to do anything but wish your situation would change. How can you regain control of your life?


The apostle Paul traveled extensively as a zealous first-century missionary. But his travels came to a halt when he was unjustly arrested and then confined to a house under soldier guard for two years. Rather than succumb to despair, Paul focused on what he could do. He gave spiritual help and comfort to all who came to visit him. He even wrote several of the letters that are now part of the Bible.​—Acts 28:30, 31.


As mentioned in the preceding article, Anja is housebound. “Cancer has influenced every aspect of my life,” she says. “I can’t afford to risk infection right now, so my secular work and social life are all but nonexistent.” How does Anja cope with her unchangeable circumstances? “Creating a new routine was the key for me,” she says. “I prioritized what was most important to me and made a schedule with my limited abilities in mind. This has given me a sense of control.”

“I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.”​—Paul’s words at Philippians 4:11, footnote


If unchangeable circumstances seem to be controlling your life, try the following:

  • Focus on what you can control. For example, you may not have full control over your health, but can you exercise, eat healthful food, and get sufficient rest?

  • Clarify what you would like to accomplish in life. Break it down into small steps. Try to spend at least a little time each day working toward your goals.

  • Do tasks, even small ones, that give you a sense of control. Clean the kitchen table, and wash the dishes. Dress neatly. Do the most important tasks first thing in the morning.

  • Look at the possible benefits of your circumstances. For example, does your situation give you greater insight into ways of coping with difficulties? Can you use this insight to help others?

Bottom Line: You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you may be able to control your response to them.