“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19
Have you ever felt locked into a situation over which you have no real control – a health problem, a broken relationship or a financial setback? Have you ever felt that you have been thrust into less than ideal circumstances and that somehow your usefulness to God has been compromised?
If you have, you are not alone. This has been a common experience for many of the leading figures in the Bible. Take Joseph, for example. He was kidnapped, sold into slavery, forced to work for foreigners in Egypt, falsely accused of sexual assault and unjustly imprisoned. It is hard to imagine more trying circumstances. And yet he bore a faithful witness to God despite all his sufferings.
The same is also true for Ezekiel and Daniel. As young men – perhaps even boys – they were torn from family and friends, uprooted from their homes and taken as captives to Babylon. While Ezekiel lived as a refugee among his people, Daniel was forced to live and work in an oppressive setting where his every waking and sleeping moment was carefully monitored. How would we react in similar circumstances? Would we have given up living? Would we have lost our faith in God? Well, neither Joseph, nor Ezekiel, nor Daniel did. Instead, they entrusted their souls to God and continued to do good.
Interestingly, we see that Paul reacted similarly when he was imprisoned for almost 5 years from the time he left Jerusalem until the time of his trial in Rome. During this period, he survived several assassination attempts, a shipwreck and 3 months of deprivation on the island of Malta. Nevertheless, despite his limitations he always found ways to serve the Lord and preach the Word. Rather than being downcast by his situation, Paul saw his problem as an opportunity to advance the Gospel in a different way. In other words, he realised that whether he was free or not, he could always do good works.
I don’t know what circumstances you find yourself in at this precise moment, but I do know this – whatever our circumstances – whether we are rich or poor, strong or weak, healthy or sick, we can always do the will of God and witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The aim of life is not personal success, wealth or happiness. If it was, Paul would have been a miserable man, but he was nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he was confident, optimistic and full of hope because he knew that, despite his sufferings, he could always glorify God and advance the work of the Kingdom by engaging in good works.