Symbolization: From the Prison to Praise

Original Entry Date 6/3/2013:
Sometimes we get stuck, so stuck in a funk it takes over our lives in a way where we cannot move forward (kind of like being in a truck and driving it into a giant pool of mud). I get like this at times, sometimes A LOT, and it can be a difficult task to pull myself out of that mud hole. The majority of the time I have to wait for a tow truck to come along to assist me.

We all know that this life is not going to be a cakewalk; we will inevitably face disappointments, heartbreak, betrayal, and hardships of differing degrees. Jesus even told us that this was a guarantee in John.

John 16:33b NKJV:

…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

When we face trials we can turn to the Word, reminding ourselves that this is an opportunity for us to grow spiritually. God is shaping and forming us.

James 1:2-4 NRSV: My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:1-5 NSRV: Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

All of that is of great encouragement but sometimes we fall victim to the very dangerous, joy annihilating beast called self-pity! When things are going not so great it can be very easy to fall victim to this trap. Let’s read about Paul and Silas walking through a marketplace in the Book of Acts.

Acts 16:16-24 NSRV: 16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Now that is a reason to be down on life, being arrested, stripped of their clothing, and being severely beaten and flogged! And after all that, to be thrown into a jail cell bound in shackles…could it get any worse?!?! Being caught up in self pity is just like being locked up in a jail cell OR like bein in that mud pit, going nowhere fast!

Surprisingly, Paul and Silas weren’t in that jail cell moaning and groaning but rather what they are doing is the VERY KEY to unlock the cell door of the self pity bondage!

Acts 16:25-26 NLV: 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs of thanks to God. The other men in prison were listening to them. 26 All at once the earth started to shake. The stones under the prison shook and the doors opened. The chains fell off from everyone.

No matter what trial we face, if we turn our focus to God, being thankful in PRAYER, offering shouts of PRAISE, Glorifying His Holy Name, singing songs of JOY the heaviness and sorrow will be overcome and the prison doors will be shook open.

Psalm 100 NKJV:  Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

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