God’s path for your life is never a straight line. It is a meandering road with a complex mixture of struggle and joy. Our mission in this life is to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord. That instruction is delivered to us through experience. It’s impossible to know joy if you have never experienced struggle. God could easily create a perfect life for each and every one of His believers, but in his infinite wisdom He has deemed it far more valuable for us to learn these lessons first-hand. Every twist and turn in the meandering road that constitutes our life, is a well calculated move designed to bring us to full maturity in the Lord.
In chapter sixteen of the Book of Acts we are told an amazing story of how God works in the lives of believers. Paul was continuing his missionary work traveling with a small group of men that included a leader in the church named Silas. As they traveled through one town, Paul used his miraculous powers to remove an evil spirit from a woman. This caused a problem because the woman was using that evil spirit to predict the future and make money for her owner. As a result, her owner captured Paul and Silas and took them to the authorities on trumped up charges.
“They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” Acts 16:20-21 (NIV)
At this point, you might expect God to step in and remove the threat from these two servants who are being unfairly maligned by the whole town, but He does not. Instead, Paul and Silas end up being severely flogged and thrown into prison. God allows Paul and Silas to go through considerable pain and suffering but they continue to worship and sing hymns to him as they wait their fate in prison. Finally, in the middle of the night, God causes an earthquake that frees Paul and Silas and sends them on a mission to bring the jailer, who is watching over them, and his family, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.” Acts 16:32-33 (NIV)
After leading the jailer and his family to Christ, Paul and Silas return to jail, knowing if they don’t, the jailer will be killed for allowing them to escape. Of course, God has already planned for their release, and in due time they are in fact set free by the magistrate.
Paul and Silas remained faithful to God as they waited for the next turn in their meandering road journey with Him. These two men knew without question that their torture and imprisonment were all for the glory of God and ultimately for their benefit. When we are locked in a prison of sorts as a result of difficult circumstances in our own life, there is nothing more important than to remain faithful to God. Keep your eye on Jesus. Remember His teaching. Be anxious for nothing. He is with you.
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