No doubt, if I was chained to a prison wall, I would choose to praise God because that is what I have set in my mind to do ever since I was so young. But what if there is another kind of prison and I am chained to a different kind of wall? Perhaps a wall that’s not so recognizable?
Over the summer I had the opportunity to spend two months doing mission work in Alaska. During that time I was like a little bird who had been set free to fly as far and as fast as I wanted. When I left Alaska and returned home, I discovered that the difficult circumstances that I already normally had to live in had only become worse. It was as if this wild and free bird had been captured and placed in a very small, very confining cage. A prison. As I watched the bars come down around me, I felt trapped.
Through all my years of believing that if someone ever captured me and forced me into a prison, I had no doubt that my reaction would be to praise God through it all - just like all the missionary stories that had always inspired me. However, I had never considered before a prison with no visible bars. No, it’s not the same thing as my childish imagination had envisioned of myself, praising God while being chained to a dark prison wall. But it is the same in the way that all of us are to learn to praise God through all of life’s trials and to rejoice no matter our circumstances. For myself, this means that I am to rejoice while taking care of my elderly grandfather or while helping my mom who is in bad heath. This means I am to rejoice while helping my disabled uncle who now lives with us, while taking care of the house and doing the shopping. This means I am to rejoice when dealing with several other things in my life that most other 22 year olds have never, and hopefully will never have to deal with. Though I may feel that I am in a prison, trapped in my current circumstances, I have been learning to see it as an opportunity instead of a prison. An opportunity to learn new things and to bless everyone who comes into contact with me. To cease the moment to do all that the Lord has set before me. To do my very best even at the smallest, seemingly unimportant tasks. At this time in my life it often seems like there is no light to the end of the tunnel and that there will never be an end to the circumstances in which I find myself. But, in truth, I realize that this is only a season in my life and whether it’s a long or short one, I need to make the most of it and use it for God’s glory. I need to let God grow me and stretch me instead of constantly trying to escape. To be content with where He has placed me at this time and to live, with a joyful heart, even while I still feel as though I am trapped in a prison.
James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.