It is very easy for us to harbour the misconception that, as Christians, we can expect to live a life of comfort and ease. This is not necessarily the case. Just take a look at Paul: he was absolutely in the centre of God’s purpose for him, yet he experienced being flogged, shipwrecked, bitten by a viper and eventually ended up in prison.
I often think that, under similar circumstances, most of us would probably say something like, “Okay, Lord, clearly I’m on the wrong track here. Shall I change course?” or “Obviously this isn’t working. I’m going to curl up in a ball and cry now.”
But not Paul. Paul’s confidence in God’s calling on his life was so secure that he set a new bar for how to respond to opposition. I find the following passage of scripture, which Paul writes, exceptionally challenging and exceptionally encouraging at the same time:
2 Timothy 2:9 NIV
“This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.”
Sometimes, as fallible human beings, we find ourselves in prisons of our own making. In these cases, we need to seek God and His Word in order to be liberated from the thoughts and actions that may be confining us. However, sometimes – as in the case of Paul – we may find ourselves in a ‘prison’, even though we are right in the centre of God’s purpose for us. Whether that prison comes in the form of conflict, delay, persecution or sickness (to name a few options) we can be encouraged that God’s Word is not chained. There can be purpose in our prison.
Just like Paul, we may find ourselves in a position of great opportunity, even in the midst of great opposition. God can work mightily through us, even when the circumstances seem very confining. Where did Paul find his strength and hope during what, under normal circumstances, would have been considered a very discouraging time? Let’s take a look:
2 Tim 1:11-12 NIV
“Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted him until that day.”
I know whom I have believed. Do you know Jesus today? Whether today is the first step in a relationship with Jesus, or whether it’s a reminder for you to begin to trust Him for an even deeper relationship with Him, let’s pray this prayer together:
Thank you, Jesus, that you are never far from me. I want to know you, Lord. I trust you today for a deeper relationship with you. I ask that you would work in me and through me in whatever circumstance I might find myself. Amen.
Written by Michelle Bruyns