For a long time I couldn’t understand why God didn’t get me out of prison. I’d been faithful to Him for years. I went to all the chapel programs, sang in the choir, and attended Bible study regularly. I prayed every day, thanked God before every meal, and witnessed to all the men in my dormitory. I was a light in a dark place. But all my attempts to get out of prison were denied.
Why, Lord? Why? I asked. Don’t You love me?
Then one day while I was reading a story in the Bible about three Hebrew boys, God spoke to my heart. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been kidnapped from their home and taken into captivity in Babylon. The king threatened to throw them into a ﬁ ery furnace unless they bowed to the idol he had constructed. Yet even in the face of such a horrible death, they trusted God. They told the king,
Perhaps the key to their willingness to sacriﬁ ce their lives for God can be found in three little words: but if not. -These three words do not ask how a loving God can treat us so unfairly or why He chooses not to intervene in our tragedies. Instead they reflect the attitude expressed in Ro. 11:34-35:
He alone possesses absolute wisdom. He is the just and merciful one. He is the power that sustains and rules, and we depend on Him completely in all things. He works out everything for His glory, and He deserves our praise–whether or not He frees us from difficult circumstances.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the ﬁ re for worshiping God; I’m in prison for breaking the law. In spite of how I got here, God is still able to deliver me if He wants. But He may choose not to. –The question is, Will I respond to my situation the same way Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did? Will I trust God completely
and let Him use me for His purpose regardless of my circumstances?
God loves me. He sent His Son to endure an agonizing death on the cross to prove it. So no matter what my situation is, I can rejoice because Christ alone brings the victory, not my circumstances. His blood shed for my sins won the battle, and my eternal future is guaranteed. God promises that whatever happens to me, wherever I am, I can never be separated from His love (Ro. 8:35-39).
But if not . . . Adopting the attitude behind those words enables me to trust God without a guarantee of deliverance. And it allows me to look at my prison furnace diﬀ erently. – e crucible becomes a reﬁning pot. The razor-wire fences that man designed to keep me in become the method God is using to help me ﬁnd the way out—from death to eternal life. Now that’s worthy of praise.
about the author
ROY A. BORGES is a chapel clerk and the author of Faith and Love behind Prison Fences (PublishAmerica). Someday he would like to travel the world telling churches about prison life.
Copyright © Discipleship Journal. Used by permission of Discipleship Journal. Copyright © Sept/Oct. 2006, Issue 155, The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. www.navpress.com