We all have times where we feel like we are trapped.
Whether it’s a painful moment, a devastating diagnosis, or a prolonged trial, there are seasons where all we want is for God to intervene and change our circumstances. We want Him to reach down and remove us from the hurt.
And sometimes He does.
The Bible is replete with stories of God responding to people’s prayers by changing what’s going on around them.
The early disciples experienced this. . Twice, after being wrongfully incarcerated, God miraculously releases them from prison, first Peter and then Paul. (Acts 12:6-17; Acts 16:16-24) . Twice, He intervenes to provide relief.
But that didn’t happen every time.
Later, when Paul was jailed once again, God had him stay there. Not for a little while, but for two years.
Two years of restricted movement, of being a prisoner, of having limited freedoms.
Two years of being removed from his itinerant ministry, not able to visit and encourage the churches that were springing up.
Two years of jail.
Not because he deserved to be locked up, but because some people were jealous of him, and wanted him punished.
And he knew that God could release him. He had done it before. But this time He didn’t.
Yet that time in jail wasn’t wasted. During it, he wrote letters to the churches; letters that are still read today. He provided instruction of what it means to walk and grow in the Lord, even when he couldn’t be there to personally teach them. He encouraged them, even though it must have been so easy for him to get discouraged.
Paul must have realized something that’s important for us to realize too. God doesn’t always work the same way in our lives, but He’s always working.
Sometimes He removes us from the trial, sometimes He allows it to stay, but either way, He’s working through it, so that our circumstance, whether good or bad, brings Him praise.
We might feel trapped, locked up and unable to do anything. Thankfully, we can trust in the One Who is able to do everything. And whether we remain behind our figurative bars, or He works for our release, we can eagerly look forward for how He will use our circumstance – for His purposes… for His glory.