Under No Circumstances

All alone in my car, waiting for the red light to turn green, I watched the driver next to me take a deep drag from his Marlboro. Immediately, I thought, “I could run to the drugstore, buy a pack, and smoke just one before I get home. Nobody has to know.” I’d recently quit, but had become a slave to cigarettes.

It was 1989. I’d successfully given up alcohol when it had become a problem, but now, quitting smoking was like breaking up with an affair of ten years: our private moments…the stress-relief…our sneaking around. I’d even tried quitting cold-turkey–really tried–several times. Gone two whole weeks, but then a craving had come over me, and that first drag erased all self-control. It wasn’t just a private affair. I lit up with friends at 12-Step meetings, after breakfast, after meals; with coffee; when I was on the phone; days that end in “y”…

You’d think that after successfully quitting alcohol, I could quit this unhealthy habit, too. I sought the Lord’s help in prayer.

“You know how tough this struggle has become. Mom’s Emphysema and lung cancer are suffocating her. Now I’ve developed a smoker’s cough. I don’t want to die struggling for every last breath.” Mom’s suffering became the motivation I needed to quit for good. Though preventing lung disease was an admirable quest, I feared nicotine was the one thing I might never be able to quit entirely. So, I sought strategies:

  • Go ahead. Comfort yourself with food.
  • Try delaying gratification.
  • Storm heaven for supernatural help with this nasty stronghold.
  • Last on my list: Try some steps towards simple obedience to God.

…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

Wait. My brother-in-law had successfully quit smoking. I reached out to him.

He suggested I pull out all the stops: “Drink your coffee differently. (I eliminated cream; drank it black.) Don’t stay on the phone long. Ask your family for affirmation. Reward yourself.” He also mailed me brochures from the American Lung Association. I read them cover-to-cover.

An empty mayonnaise jar became a receptacle for cold, hard cash–the equivalent of what I would’ve spent on a pack or carton. Still, cravings for nicotine came on strong. At times, I reached for food. The added weight is no worse than blackening my lungs.

The afternoon I noticed the smoker next to me at the red light was around day ten of withdrawal. The craving struck like a bolt of lightning. Then, all at once, I heard a still, small voice:

“Under no circumstances.”

I felt chills up my arms. The new mantra, a gift. One I clung to, reminding me—I am not to give in to that first one, no matter what. The freedom I’ve gained from establishing healthy boundaries has been a long but rewarding process. God in His infinite wisdom placed borders in creation.

And who took charge of the ocean
when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?
That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,
and tucked it in safely at night.
Then I made a playpen for it,
a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose,
And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place.
Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’
~ Job 38:8-11 (The Message)

In other words, “Child, do not go any further…”

In Isaiah 40:30-31, the strength we need is spelled out:

He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles.
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (The Message)

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Sarah Blizzard Robinson
Latest posts by Sarah Blizzard Robinson (see all)


  1. Diane Karchner on July 6, 2017 at 8:52 AM

    When I need a reminder about the power and majesty of God, I often turn to Job – not for Job’s story, but for chapter 38 that is a reminder of God’s ridiculous power – in His own words! I love The Message’s wording – holding your desires and bad habits at bay, in the playpen! Thanks for the connection with God’s power to our little annoying bad habits that are so hard to overcome. – put them in his playpen!!

    • Sarah B. Robinson on July 6, 2017 at 9:01 AM

      I’d never read Job 38 in that translation before, and I just loved it. Thanks, friend.

  2. Susan on July 11, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    Another inspiring story Sarah…what a gift God has given you to share and bless so many!! Thankful for you!

  3. Cole // Cole Smith Writes on July 12, 2017 at 9:52 AM

    Chills, Sarah! When we hear that Voice, it changes everything. It’s only happened to me twice, but I cherish those words.

  4. Diane Tarantini on July 27, 2017 at 1:03 PM

    Sarah!!!! Oh my gracious!!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m with Cole. “Under no circumstance” totally gave me chills. I wish, I hope, I pray, that God will break off all my “issues” with a supernatural intervention like he did for you. Awe-mazing!!!

    And can I also say that I am totally in love with The Message translations of Job you promised above. A playpen? That is so great!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.