When is it easiest for you to worship? When is it easiest to sing the praises of our mighty and faithful God? The first thought that came to your mind was in the hard times, right? Those times where you feel like everything is going wrong and falling apart? Those were the times you thought of first…right? If I’m being honest, before just recently, those wouldn’t have been my first thoughts either.
Through a Bible study that I’ve been a part of the last few weeks, I’ve gained some new insight into the life, really the attitude, of Paul. And it’s really shifting my way of thinking about worshipping God. Paul was a mighty man of God. He was a devoted follower of Jesus. He overcame a colorful past to be used as a one of the most quoted and inspirational writers of the Bible. And he was persecuted…a lot.
I’ve always loved what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20-21:
20 God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.21 Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
But it wasn’t until just these last few weeks that I actually realized that he wrote those incredible words in PRISON! Paul was sitting in a prison cell writing a letter to the people of Ephesus, encouraging them to be strong and not be discouraged. And proclaiming the greatness and glory of God.
How often do we sit in the “prison” of our problem or situation and question God? How often do we sit in the midst of our trial and question why God hasn’t given an answer? Or even just wondered if He’s really even there?
My study of Paul, and specifically how he viewed God, taught me something. Paul didn’t just see the vastness of God’s ability in the good times. Paul saw it, maybe even more clearly, in the prison of his trials. And instead of focusing on the seemingly overwhelming nature of the problem, focused on the absolute ability of God.
So often, as we sit in our prison of despair, we let our mind become consumed with the bigness of our problem. We see the impossibilities of what’s in front of us. We worship the bigness of our problem over the ability of our God.
Paul had it figured out. The time that it makes the most sense to pour out lavish worship to our God is the time when we’re in our own personal “prison”. The times when we’re at the end of our own ability, the times when there’s no answer to be found, the times when life is at its darkest. Those are the times when God is best positioned to make Himself known. Those are the times that, when the answer comes, there’s no choice but to see the greatness of God. Those are the times when God can stage a comeback of epic proportions on your behalf.
Paul sat in a prison cell and told us that God can do anything. Anything beyond even our wildest dreams. Paul was witness to the resurrection. He knew that nothing, NOTHING was too big for God. So he worshipped…extravagantly…lavishly…wholeheartedly…from prison.