Are You a Prisoner of Circumstances or a Prisoner of the Lord?

Have you ever felt like you were a victim of circumstances? Due to lack of education or money you have missed opportunities? Maybe if you had not

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married right out of high school you could have explored the world instead of getting tied down. Now you are sacrificing your own dreams in order to create a better life for your family. Meanwhile others wish they had married so they could be experiencing a family. Now those are examples of being a victim of our own choices and not necessarily circumstances beyond our own control. Others feel like they were born victims.

Some blame the location of where they were born on how their lives turned out. Several years ago a friend came to visit me from South America. We were stopped at an intersection where a man was begging. My friend was amazed that there were poor people in the United States. She thought all Americans were wealthy because America is known as the land of opportunity. It seems that, no matter where people come from or what their lot is in life, they can see them selves as victims of circumstances.

While I enjoy my freedom of being single, there are times I miss having a family.  I was talking to a friend the other day about one of the things I miss about not having my own family. I miss having someone with whom to share my stories. I don’t have a wife with whom I can share my school yearbook and tell her my high school and college stories. I don’t have any children to whom I can tell my “when I was a kid” stories. Then again, I know married people who don’t have anyone in their family who wants to hear their story either. 1

My friend then made an amazing comparison. She told me while I have no family with whom to share my stories, I share them with my church family and extended family through blogging. She told me Paul was the same way. Maybe that is why he wrote so much and loved his church so much. Having no immediate family, the church was his love and passion, and he shared his story and testimony with them through his letters. Maybe that is why he wrote so much!

Now I have no doubt Paul wrote because God told him to, and it got me to thinking about Paul’s circumstances and one thing I have always noticed: While being persecuted and in prison Paul never thought of himself as a victim of circumstances. He never even though of himself as a victim of the Jews or Romans while in prison. Paul writes,

 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.. Ephesians 3:1

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you… Ephesians 4:1

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:2 Timothy 1:8

Paul never refers to being a prisoner of the Romans or Jews. Even while in prison Paul saw himself as a prisoner of the Lord! He knew he was exactly where God wanted him to be. Paul did most of his writing from prison. If he had been free to travel and talk to people in person, he would not have written so much, and we would not have had all of his writings preserved in the New Testament that we have today.

Paul was well aware of how an angel freed Peter from prison. Paul was well aware of how Philip just disappeared from one place and appeared in another. Paul knew that the iron bars and soldiers were not really holding him there. He knew he was right where God needed him to be, so he calls himself a prisoner of the Lord instead of a prisoner of man or circumstances.

I have a friend who recently took a job for which she was over-qualified. Based on her education and degree, she should be somewhere else making much more money. She may have even faced ridicule from her friends and family for “lowering” herself to take this job, but where she is living, and based on other “circumstances” this is the best she can do for now. She never complains. Instead she tells me of the people she meets there who need Jesus, people she never would have been able to reach out to if she was not working with them. They never would have come to her church. She never would have met them working any place else. She is glad she is where she is because she is being used by God to reach people who need Him! And really isn’t that where we all should be?

No matter where we are born and raised and work, our real home is in heaven and we are just missionaries to this world, sent from God to share the good news with others. Some of us may be missionaries in places of poverty. Some of us may be missionaries in our families, or if we have no immediate family then in our church family and communities. Some of us may be missionaries in difficult work places, and some of us may be missionaries in literal prisons. Either way we are not prisoners of circumstances. If we love God and have chosen to serve Him, we are only prisoners of the Lord.

  1.  By the way, just because I am happy being single does not mean I have chosen to remain single. I am just happy being single until God brings me the right woman. I am not desperate. I am happily content.


Are You a Prisoner of Circumstances or a Prisoner of the Lord? — 17 Comments

  1. Thanks for this powerful post. I have always seen myself as a victim of circumstances but this has truly changed my mindset! I'm where God wants me to be and am what God wants me to be.

  2. I often think of David in the wilderness tending sheep. The least of all the sons of Jesse, the last to be brought before Samuel, and after being annointed nothing changed. ( And we have his blogs 3000 years later. )Yet his time in the wilderness was a preperation for great things, the crown. Moses was 40 years in Midian...A preparation for God's man for the hour. Paul also went into the desert to be taught and for preparation for ministry. God uses circumstances which on first sight may seem to us to be less than favourable, but in God's eyes are His tools for workmanship to sculpt His chosen vessels for service.
    If we are willing, God will lead us to where He knows is best for us and for those He chooses to place in our lives that we may minister to them as His representatives.

  3. Thanks for this blog its really uplifting. Though honestly, waiting is difficult and society doesn't help any better. They point fingers at you constantly in their discussions. If it's family it's worse you actually hesitate family gatherings because they are on you. Thanks to your message it brings hope and consolation that the Lord knows better and instead of whining, better be a prisoner of the Lord. My prayer is that may the Lord help us wait in Him and not murmur.

  4. One of the finest examples of being a servant of God no matter what circumstances prevail, is Joseph. (also Daniel, the young maiden, etc)

    It is truly liberating to realize that while you are where your circumstances/choices have led you, God will turn those to advantages and will use us right where we are if we simply ask to be used in His service in our little corner. Look at the diligence of Joseph in every station, though his choice would have been far different, yet God needed Joseph trained and in place when the crisis would fall upon otherwise helpless humans.

    If we feel we are "slaves" against our will or prisoners of unjust circumstances, remember Joseph and the hymn; "He leadeth me, O blessed thought!..." God can use anyone anywhere to glorify Him before others.

  5. Sometimes we question why is happening to us but when those hard circumstances in our lives passed by then we can see clearly why. Myself, I know that God's hand is holding me all the time even though sometimes I am the one who walk away not Him. He continue holding me and pulling me back slowly in His arm. He is a loving God.

  6. Thanks for the post. Good one.

    Truly, it's not about how bad our choices were, but how God our Lord guide us, and He is by His Holy Spirit shaping us to be like Him (is a process). He said, " be teachable and courageous". What is very precious to God is His work in the earth and He wants us to participate with Him. And Christ and His heavenly angels are watching it every moment. Present Truth need to be embraced and be told especially in the "closing work for the Church". We can magnify God's grace and glorify Him instead, than magnify ourselves having bad choices for certain we human beings are inclined to sin and do mistakes.

    "Very precious to God is His work in the earth. Christ and heavenly angels are watching it every moment. As we draw near to the coming of Christ, more and still more of missionary work will engage our efforts. The message of the renewing power of God's grace will be carried to every country and clime, until the truth shall belt the world"---CT page 532.

  7. Unfortunately our hind sight is 20/20. Many of us that are in the later years of our lives have wished that our choices would have been wiser and more informed. What our relationship with God is,or could have been. A well noted minister of our faith believes, that nothing that involves our relationship with God,is by accident. If we can be used by God, however and whenever, to further His purposes,we should be exceedingly thankful. When I think of the notables of the Bible like Paul(Saul) and Jonah and Moses and Job and Gideon and Abraham and many more,that were used by God. Not because they were full of self confidence or overly qualified,but they were exactly what God wanted,to carry out His plans.

  8. Several phrases regarding circumstances come to mind here--so often we think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but it still has to be mowed! Also, be careful what you pray for--you might get it! And one more, a quote from my Dad--"As a rule, man is fool, when it's hot he wants it cool; when it's cool he wants it hot, always wanting what is not!!" So Paul's life and circumstances were used and given for God's glory, a lesson for us and a window into our own attitudes toward persecution and sufffering and circumstances!

  9. I like the reading very much, but I am looking at the reading from both sides of the situation. I believe in divine providences. But does divine providences works in every situation or circumstances, I believe no. In the bible we are told about choices. Choices that we have to make everyday whether business, work, finances, family, etc,etc. We are also told about blessing and cursing. In Deutro 27-30. God promised the children to bless if they obey or curse if the disobey. Remember do not let us mix up our daily trials of life with blessings. You can be going through all the trials of life but God is still blessing you. You can loose your job, loose you family and love ones but God is still blessing you. Many people are in position that it was because of their own waywardness.

    • Marva, I think what we can learn is that even with our wayward choices, God will work with us when we turn to Him, and make the most of or lives. He knew before we were born the path we would choose, and will make any crooked path straight if we allow Him too. We have two bright examples in Jacob and Paul don't we? Jacob did not have to deceive to get what God promised, and Paul was not to go to Jerusalem, and his ministry was cut short due to his persistence, yet look at the marvelous experiences and epistles written on his detour! How many more have been reached by his personal witness than otherwise might have been? Only eternity will tell. God can make our path straight today regardless of past choices.

  10. I am sure Paul regreted he was there when Steven was stone. He regreted he was the Pharises who went from place to place to persecute the christians. He did not saw himself as being trapped in his circumstances thinking that was divine ordained. How can such sin be divine ordained. He did not say "oh, I was only doing what I knew best. Because being a pharises he had a right to be studying the scrolls for the Messiah. He properly summed up his saying in "Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this .....

  11. This blog made me remember the song "In the field of Jesus there's work for you, such as even angels might rejoice to do, Why stand idly sighing for some life work grand, while the field of Jesus seeks your reaping hand"

  12. thank you for the word of encouragement
    it is really good to know that am a prisoner of God not prisoner of circumstances


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