Can difficult circumstances be changed?
Paul says yes. Imprisoned for his faith, Paul is able to say, “what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance”. In saying this, Paul identifies two key elements: prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Prayer, says Paul, changes the outcome. Secondly, when we are in need, God provides. What God provides is more of himself, “the Spirit of Jesus Christ”. With the prayers of others and the provision of the Holy Spirit, Paul is confident that, whether he lives or dies, God’s purposes will be fulfilled in his life.
Paul’s faith may strike us remarkable. But the source of Paul’s hope is not himself, or his own abilities. His confidence is in what God can do. Paul recognizes that his personal circumstances – and the severe limitations they place upon him – are no barrier to the power and purposes of God.
Sometimes our life circumstances may seem like imprisonment: we feel trapped, with no power to change things. However, like Paul, our confidence is not in what we can do, but in God’s power. Our circumstances do not limit what God can do. We are not alone in our suffering: we have the gift of others – and we can ask them to pray for us, as Paul did – and we too, like Paul, have God with us, “God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”. These are the resources we really need, regardless of our circumstances, to stir hope in our hearts.