As we plod through our third lockdown in the UK, I have been hearing more and more, how people are finding this lockdown much more of a struggle than the first one. Maybe it’s because the first one was during summer, when we could be in our gardens, whereas now it’s freezing outside, and the nights roll in so early. Maybe it’s because we’re all just ‘so over’ this virus now, and the havoc it has wreaked on our lives.
The apostle Paul knew what it felt like to be in lockdown.
During his ministry he was tried and sent to prison several times. He served time under house arrest in Rome. He was beaten and thrown into dungeon, chained to a guard. His ‘crime’ on every occasion? Preaching the gospel. I believe we can learn something very important from Paul’s approach to his lockdown. Paul was able to remain joyful in circumstances that would send many of us into deep despair. Why? I believe it was because of his way of viewing his circumstances. And that viewpoint, I believe, is something that can be learned by every follower of Jesus.
It was in prison – lockdown, that Paul wrote many of his letters to the churches, including his letter to the church at Philippi; now known as the most joy-filled book in the New Testament.
Paul saw purpose in his lockdown
Paul didn’t sit about feeling sorry for himself. He didn’t rage and rail against the government for the injustice of putting him there.
From a worldly point of view, it was the Romans that had locked him up, but from a Kingdom point of view, Paul saw that God allowed it. God had placed him there.
Paul didn’t view himself as being stuck in prison, but positioned there, by the Lord, with a purpose!
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
As I read Philippians, I see that Paul didn’t view his guards, who guarded him day and night, as captors, but as a ‘captive audience’. They had no choice but to listen to Paul, day after day, as he talked about Jesus & wrote encouraging letters to the church. They, the guards, were the ones in chains, not Paul!
What if we were to view our own lockdown in a similar way? We may not be able to meet friends and loved ones, but we can write letters, cards and emails. We have the blessing of modern technology, and can video-call. We can choose to let God work in and through us to encourage and bring joy to other people locked-down in their homes.
Many are in the house day after day with the same family members, and they’re starting to grind on your nerves. Maybe you feel a bit like Paul, chained to a ‘guard’,night and day! What about asking God to step in and change your viewpoint; to see yourself not as stuck, or locked-down, with those family members, but positioned with purpose. And allow Him to move, to work in and through you.