Prison, Prayers and Providence

November 3, 2011 at 9:31 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

I have been reading through Acts and pondered again something I mentioned while preaching through the book.  Paul was held in prison at Caesarea for two years while Governor Felix was hoping to get a bribe from him (24:26-27).  Eventually, that imprisonment would become a total of almost five years, two in Caesarea, two in Rome, and almost one in transit.  When we think of Paul, we may think missionary, church planter, or disciplemaker, but very rarely do we think prisoner.  Yet for five years he sat waiting the outcome of his mockery of a trial.  This took a great understanding of the sovereignty of God.  If I were in his shoes, I would be chomping at the bit for the next preaching opportunity, the next mission trip, the next unreached community, and Paul may have been anxious also, but it never shows.  He understood that God was in control and would bring about his desired results in his time.  God even told Paul that these circumstances would move him to Rome so he might testify there (23:11).

After reading Acts 24 and pondering that thought, I then read Psalm 6.  The following cry, which leads the chapter, sounds like something Paul may have prayed from prison:  “O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.  Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.  My soul is in anguish.  How long, O LORD, how long? (Psalm 6:1-3 NIV)  I wonder if Paul may have read these words during that five-year period.  But rather than complain, David, who wrote that prayer, goes immediately to the character of God and trusts in him.  The next words are “Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.” (v.4)

It’s easy to complain about circumstances beyond your control, yet God is always in control.  Nothing in your life situation is outside of his eternal plan.  He knows what you are going through, even if it feels like five years of prison or uselessness, and he will bring about his perfect end through those circumstances.  You can trust in his unfailing love.

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