At the end of last year, I spent some time reflecting on the year. As I was doing that, I remembered some unexpected things that happened that got me down. I had many highs last year but the lows were really low. Knowing that God loves me and wants what’s best for me kept me going. There were times though where I wondered why God allows certain things to happen in our lives that seem like they don’t even make sense. They don’t appear as though they’ll add anything to our story but are there to just try to derail us. During the last service of the year at church, the preacher spoke about the story from the Bible where Paul and Silas were imprisoned without doing anything wrong. At Acts 16, verses 22 to 32, we read:
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.” Acts 16:22-32.
After referring to this story and reading up to the part where the earthquake took place, the preacher asked why God allowed the events to happen as they did. Answers ranged from God’s sovereignty, to show He is in control of everything etc. Until one person said “for the jailer.” That had not crossed my mind until then and became clear as we continued reading. I was so focused on Paul and Silas’ woes that I hadn’t considered the jailer.
Through Paul and Silas going through what they went through, being flogged and falsely imprisoned, God turned a jailer’s heart. The jailer and his household were saved through God using Paul and Silas’ unfavorable circumstances. It made me look at my circumstances differently. What if those times where I was crying out to God over my circumstances and focusing on me, I should have been asking God “Who are you trying to reach through me?”
What if going forward when we find ourselves wrongly imprisoned, life flogging us for nothing we did wrong, we praise God like Paul and Silas did and be thankful that God is using us for the jailer in our life. I don’t know how well I’ll do this but going forward I’d like to say to myself “remember the jailer” because it’s not always about me. My life isn’t just about me. I have chosen to give my life to Christ and then cry when He uses me for His Kingdom. He loves us dearly but He loves His other children too and we should be happy to be used for them.
By jailer I don’t mean the person who is imprisoning you but any person that God wants to reach through you, without consulting you. Why? Because you already said yes to Him when you got saved.
Paul and Silas are not the only ones God used with circumstances that wouldn’t put a smile on our faces. As believers we’re surprised when God uses us for other people and yet He showed us that is how He works when He used His one and only Son Jesus Christ to come on earth to die for us. Jesus suffered through it all because He knew He was doing it for His Father and for us, the church. I’m guilty of crying out to God “why would you put me through this if you loved me?” Did He not love Christ when He sent Him here to die?
He trusted Christ to do His Father’s will, knowing He was doing it for God’s children. In the same way God may allow us to go through certain experiences that hurt us and we hate them but they will help His other children as a result.
I went through something a while ago that hurt me deeply. Recently, as I sat with one of God’s children and was there for her through a difficult time, I understood why I had gone through what I went through. Just a few hours helping someone made all the hurt I went through worth it. As a result I believe sometimes God allows us to go through certain things because He trusts us to be able to care for His other children because of our experience. It’s not fun when it’s happening but it’s worth it for the Kingdom.
I don’t mean all bad things or what we consider “bad things” that occur in our lives are from God. The devil is forever at work attacking us to derail God’s plan for our lives. Let’s not forget that. What I’m saying is God will take that and use it for His other children.
For example God didn’t cause Joyce Meyer to be sexually abused by her father but she is now able to help thousands if not millions of people who have suffered through similar experiences. Nothing beats experience when it comes to ministering to people about something. Reading her book Healing the soul of a woman made me appreciate that.
As you question God for past experiences that hurt you, consider how God may use you through it. I’m not trying to minimize your pain, God knows I have had experiences that made me question if God really cared for me. I’m just saying, the pain is not and was not in vain.
For this year, when trials come our way, instead of wondering what we did wrong or why God would do this to us or why can’t it just be over already, how about we remember the jailer?