Having never been in jail, I’m not too sure what I would do if I were locked up, particularly if I were innocent and it was persecution for my faith. When it happened to the Apostle Paul and his coworker, they demonstrated the power of God over adversity. They were in prison, but the prison was certainly not in them.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them… (Acts 16:25)
I would avoid prison if possible, but this is not the only thing that I’d run from. I don’t want painful events, but the Bible tells me that those things that I turn from, God uses for my good. This is how God works. He uses difficulties to bring out the fruit of His Spirit. Adversity and trials show the power of God and clearly reveal that nothing is too hard for Him.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance… (Romans 5:2–3)So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. (2 Corinthians 7:10–11)
We might glibly say that God works in mysterious ways, but mostly say it when those ways somehow work to our advantage in a surprise or a turn of events that we don’t expect. I’ve seldom heard this said over suffering, affliction and grief over sin, at least not until long after the fact.
I’d like to be so filled with faith that when trouble comes, I would not lose heart. I’d like to become joyful knowing that God was up to something good, even joyful enough to sing, even enough to sing in the middle of the situation when it was still at its darkest and no end was yet in sight. The odd part of this is that the only way to have this kind of faith is by experiencing suffering, affliction and grief.