In the natural, a GPS tells you where you are. You can tell how close or how far you are from your destination. But using circumstances to try to figure out where you are is dangerous and misleading. Let the Holy Spirit tell you where you stand! Let Him show you things to come, as He promised through the Word that He would.
Look at Joe in the Old Testament. Joe had a vision from God of being a leader. He was thrown into a pit and sold as a slave. That didnít seem to be progress. Then he was framed for immorality and sent to jail. That certainly did not seem to be progress. Then Joe interpreted a dream for someone who was going to the king and asked to be remember to the king. The person forgot Joe and Joe stayed in the slammer. That didnít look like progress either. If you went by circumstances, how was Joeís life doing at that point? But suddenly Joe was elevated to Vice President right out of jail!
Dave was an Old Testament version of The Fugitive, running from the authorities when he hadnít done anything wrong. Dave ran and hid in caves even though he knew he was supposed to be king. Then one day Dave and his men found their wives and children had been kidnapped and the place they were staying was burnt to a crisp. To add to Daveís misery, his own men were proposing to kill him! Dave was not having a good day. It looked like his hopes of doing anything but dying were gone. What conclusion would YOU have reached if you went by circumstances? But shortly thereafter, Dave was on the throne just as God said he would be.
Paul and Silas didnít draw conclusions form circumstances when they were in the stocks at Philippi! Neither should you!