Have you ever prayed for a rescue that didn’t happen? Maybe that is what you are praying for right now. In desperation we often call out to God, begging him to remove us from the painful situation, or to alleviate the circumstances surrounding us. But, for many who continue to suffer in their situation this expectation can cause doubt and a crisis of faith. Where is God? Why hasn’t He responded to me? Why has my situation not changed? Does He even hear me?
I can’t help but think about this when I read Acts 22-23. Paul was in Jerusalem in a prison cell while a plot to kill him was being formed. That would normally cause anyone to doubt their course or wonder where God was. In the past God had miraculously opened prison doors (5:17-21, 12:1-11, and 16:23-30) to protect his witnesses from harm, but now that doesn’t happen. There is no escape plan. But then notice Acts 23:11, rather than rescuing Paul from prison the Lord provides his abiding presence and strengthening encouragement. Reassuring him that being in Jerusalem was not only the right course of action but that Paul will also be called to share the gospel in Rome in much the same way that he had in Jerusalem. Paul had not been abandoned by the Lord.
In many ways we can remember this when we are in tough circumstances. Can the Lord rescue us from tragic and terrible circumstances? Yes. Can he still work miracles? Absolutely. But, sometimes it’s more important that God provides his presence and encouragement that equips us for the future tasks he has in store for us. Because, again we have to remember that our plans are not the Lord’s. And through everything His name will be known. So the question is not whether he will rescue you, it’s how is he showing you His encouragement and strength? He will equip you for the journey.
Paul remained in prison for the next 2 years and during those 2 years I’m sure that Paul often reflected on the encouragement and confidence found from the Lord that night in the Jerusalem prison cell. Sometimes, rather than rescuing you, God will stand beside you and provide his support while you’re going through a hard time because he knows that the endurance you need to go forward is found in that moment. In that moment Paul was enabled to withstand imprisonment that would last for years and eventually be able to faithfully share the gospel in Rome.
How is the Lord showing up in your life? Praying to be equipped and strengthened could change everything from your purpose to your response.