Are we meant to change our circumstances?
Yes—if our circumstances are not what God has planned for us, and we keep our focus on Him.
It says in Psalm 112 that those who fear the Lord and delight in His commandments will prosper—living life with wealth, confidence, and compassion. If we’re not living in all of God’s promises, then we need to look to Him, asking what He desires for us to do, and take up our mantels of authority as kings and priests.
If God desires good for us, why do so many struggle? Why is there poverty and lack?
God does desire good for us, but there are many reasons why we’re not all thriving. Some of these are:
- Lack of faith
- Failure to believe that God desires the best for us—believing that ‘to have is sin’
- Feeling inadequate—believing God can’t love us; that we can’t be used mightily of God
- Acceptance of where we are
- False prosperity—a belief that we’re actually prospering even when we’re not in line with the greater level of prosperity God desires
- The “If I’m supposed to have it, it will happen” belief—that if something is meant for us then we won’t have to work for it
- Failure to ask God for things—having not, because we ask not
These are just a few of the reasons why there’s poverty and lack, and while it’s true that circumstances in our lives may hinder our thriving, God has given us the ability and drive to rise above. For we are not of this world, we are children of the Most High God!
But what about me? My situation doesn’t allow me to “rise above.”
While there are many ways to answer this question, one of the most honest is to look at the life of someone who has pushed through the trials to thrive.
Now, to thrive doesn’t mean that our circumstances are always perfect, or that things will be laid out the way we’d prefer. No. To thrive means that no matter what comes our way, we keep pressing in—keeping our face to God, retaining our faith, and finding joy!
Jozef Rapaport was born in 1899 to religious Jewish parents.
Early on, his father died, and his mother struggled to provide for him and his three older sisters.
Yet, despite the poverty Jozef grew up in, he enrolled in a university in Prague, paying his own way through hard work—rising above his circumstances. After attending that university and obtaining a degree there, Jozef found that he wanted to expand his knowledge further, moving to Vienna temporarily to earn a Ph.D. in economics. A degree which would allow him to become a successful banker.
In 1931 Jozef married a Jewish woman, Leah Kohl, and moved to Warsaw, Germany where he continued to work as a banker. During this time, the Rapaports lived comfortably in the suburbs, and in 1933 they had a daughter, Zofia. For many years the family happily lived this life, with Jozef relishing every moment he could spend with his wife and daughter. Then, in late August 1939, just before Germany would invade Poland, Jozef was called into military service.
It wasn’t long before Jozef was taken prisoner, yet he was quickly released, returning to his family in November of that same year… then fleeing with them to Soviet-occupied Lvov.
The Rapaports had a little over a year of safety and comfort before Lvov would be occupied by the Germans in 1941, and they were forced to flee once again. This time to one of the most unlikely places… Warsaw—the place they’d fled before, which was still very much in German hands.
Upon reaching Warsaw, they were hidden by a loyal former employee of Jozef in an 8×10-foot room. For two years, the Rapaports lived alone in that room. They could barely speak, only allowed near-silent whispers, and never allowed near the window that was in their room. It was virtually a prison, but it meant safety… as long as no one found out.
On one occasion, their benefactor’s ex-wife threatened to expose his ‘synagogue’—the fact he was hiding Jews—a threat which would not only have meant death to them, but to him as well. Yet, for whatever reason, she never spoke of their presence, and their benefactor never turned them away—they were kept safe.
Then in 1944, the Warsaw uprising began. The city was being evacuated of all its citizens and Jozef was seen outside. Not being recognized as a Jew, he was deported with other citizens to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, located within Germany.
It is unknown how Jozef perished in that camp, only that conditions and workloads were severe… and that his death was sadly during the last six weeks of the war—so close to being reunited with his wife and daughter, who thankfully survived the war.
What can we learn from Jozef Rapaport?
In Jozef’s life, we see that he NEVER let his circumstances keep him from seeking the best for himself and his family. He strove to rise above the poverty he’d known as a child. He strove to be educated, and make a life for himself. He strove to do right by his family—not only in finances and safety, but spending time with them, no matter how busy his schedule. He kept pressing forward, no matter how hard.
Through Jozef’s story, we see a man who never gave up, knowing that God wanted him to thrive. We see the importance of perseverance, drive, and patience.
Jozef, like many of us, desired only what God had for his life. Jozef looked to God for answers, direction, guidance, and protection… and while his life wasn’t easy, and ended early, it wasn’t because God wasn’t there. God protected Jozef in the military, in a prisoner of war camp, in Nazi occupied areas, in hiding right under the enemy’s nose, and He even protected Jozef from exposure!
If we look to God for what we’re supposed to do—ask Him and seek His face—then, with God’s strength, continue on toward the goal He’s placed before us with determination… we will succeed, and THRIVE!
My Olive Tree, in memory of individuals—like Jozef Rapaport—whose lives were cut short during the Holocaust, has created the Holocaust Victim Legacy Package. YOUR support plants an olive tree in memory of a Holocaust victim—it gives a warm blanket to a Holocaust survivor, AND it gives both beauty and jobs for generations to come!
Additionally, when you support the planting of an olive tree in memory of a Holocaust victim, you’ll receive a certificate with the name of the individual you’re remembering, along with a sterling silver Star of David necklace—showing your support and love for God’s children.
Let us give from the bounty God has given us, and remember those who came before!