“As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” – Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
Have you ever found yourself in a tough circumstance or unexpected season and thought, “Why in the world is this happening to me?” I think it’s safe to say we’ve all asked this question at one point or another. I’m sure Paul probably asked himself this question once or twice during his time in prison.
Not only was Paul well educated, religiously astute, and academically prepared to go toe-to-toe with the Jewish Pharisees, but he was also extremely passionate about spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. He was fired up about ministering to people who needed Jesus. Yet there he was, locked away in a prison, completely incapable of doing ministry the way he probably wanted to.
What Paul, along with many other people, didn’t realize at the time was that God had a completely different idea for what Paul’s ministry was going to look like. Paul’s public ministry may have been cut short by his imprisonment, but as he began to write while he was locked up, he was able to do so much more with a pen than he ever would have been able to do from a pulpit.
Paul wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon all while he was in prison. Think about the massive impact that has been made for God’s kingdom through each of those books. The words God inspired Paul to write have long outlived him and have influenced the lives of millions of Christians.
What’s important to note here is that when life didn’t turn out the way he expected, Paul didn’t just sit around complaining, asking God over and over, “Why is this happening to me?” Sure, he may have wondered that, but he didn’t stop there. He still moved forward in obedience, doing whatever the Lord was leading him to do in whatever situation he was in.
We can learn so much from Paul as we walk through our own seasons that don’t make sense from our human perspective. We need to understand that there is purpose in where God has placed us. Wherever we are relationally, professionally, financially, or otherwise, God has us there to fulfill His plan and His purpose for our lives. And the best thing we can do is to align ourselves with Him, honor Him with our actions, and move forward in obedience, regardless of where He allows us to be.