Each of experience, or have experienced, times when we feel trapped, caught in a situation we can’t seem to escape, or even find relief from. It may be a job, a relationship, a financial difficulty, an addiction, an illness. It may be (for some of us) actual persecution, like Pastor Saeed in Iran, imprisoned for his faith.
Whatever the situation, it feels something like a prison – no alternatives, at someone else’s beck and call, completely not in control of our lives or those of loved ones. And the though naturally arises: why, God, why?
That thought has two parts – why and God.
The answer to the why is not an easy one, and often curtained off from our immediate understanding. In The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge gives an answer that many of us might find difficult to comprehend and accept.
He says it’s because God loves us. And God is allowing these circumstances, because he has a larger purpose in mind, part of which is to teach, to mature, and to prepare us.
Intellectually, we as Christians can understand that. While we’re going through it, though, it can seem incomprehensible, as if we’re trying to move through pea-soup fog, and as if God is the Puppeteer and we are the puppets, being jerked back and forth.
God knows this, too. He knows what our human thoughts, emotions and responses will be. He knows we may rail against him. And he continues to love us anyway, even as we shake our fists in his face.
Once, for almost four years, I was pitched almost overnight in a career wilderness. I and my team had done everything right, with great success for the organization. And then, suddenly, the organization smashed it. From all outward appearances, I had been sent to the wilderness.
It was a difficult time. I considered leaving. A few opportunities arose but nothing worked out. I began to understand that this was where I was supposed to be, as difficult as it was.
And then it began to change. The organization began to understand that something had been broken four years before, and was not trying to figure out how to repair it.
Good things happened during those four years of wilderness, growing things, maturing things. The situation didn’t change overnight, but it did begin to change.
It was, as Sorge describes, a kind of prison – a divine prison. It was difficult to go through it, but there was a point and there was a purpose, and I eventually understood what that was. God allowed it to happen for a reason.
And in the meantime, he kept loving me.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re discussing The Fire of Delayed Answers. To see more posts on this chapter, “Prison Theology,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by Vince Mig via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.