2 Timothy 2:8-9 “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained liked a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.”
Helplessness! No one enjoys being restrained from moving forward. In our culture, in particular, people have for centuries taken pride in being able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We want to succeed and the way to do so is to “git-r-done.” But what happens when there is no conceivable way to move forward?
A mother sits by the bed of her terminal child longing to ease the pain and suffering. She would do anything to suspend the death sentence for this little one she cherishes so deeply. Yet all she can do is sit by and wait. She is helpless to turn the tide.
A once strong warrior who has been able to accomplish much in the past, now finds himself enduring terrible pain that confines him to a wheelchair. He helplessly waits for assistance to accomplish the most menial of tasks. When will this pain and frustration end?
Changed circumstances, deteriorating health, difficult life stages, large time commitments, lack of opportunity – all of these can prevent us from doing what we want to do. We are left to wonder about our changed roles and what will come next.
Paul could have experienced this helpless feeling. He had spent years serving His God in mighty ways through difficult missionary work. He had suffered greatly, yet God had rescued him time and time again. Now, in his older years, he was confined to a prison cell. From outside of his living quarters it would seem that his great influence and ability to work for God was over. To the untrained eye his reality was bleak and his fate was helplessness.
But Paul had a vastly different perspective. He realized that though God’s child can be detained behind bars and kept from serving in a conventional way, God’s word could never be put in chains. Even from behind prison walls, God’s work continues and His truth prevails.
Paul’s strongest encouragement in the midst of personal helplessness was the fact that Jesus Christ had been put into the deepest prison of all – the grave. Yet He could not be restrained there for long. After three days the Son of God rose again to bring salvation to all who would believe. That message and the hope it promises have endured through centuries of impossible situations. This glorious fact helped Paul to endure the deepest of hardships and overcome any feelings of helplessness.
God is not stymied by our apparent helplessness, but will make a way to overcome. Remember, as Paul did, Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead and overcame the greatest obstacle for us. Endure bravely your circumstances, realizing that though you may feel imprisoned, the Lord is in control and will show you what it is He has for you to do in this new stage of life. No matter how difficult the situation, the Word of God can never be imprisoned.