When I asked my class to read Acts 5 and 12 and be ready to compare and contrast the prison breakouts, I wasn't really sure where God was going to take us. Acts is an exciting book in the Bible because it was an exciting time to be a Christian. The church was growing. God was doing amazing things, and Christians were being persecuted.
In Acts 5 the apostles were imprisoned because they were teaching God's Word, and laying the blame of Christ's death squarely on the shoulders of the Sanhedrin. The apostles were arrested and put into jail (something along the lines of our city jail – The court at this level could not sentence the apostles to death, but they could most certainly make life difficult). Then the angel of the Lord led them out of the prison past the soldiers and instructed them to teach in the courts the way of the Life. When the Sanhedrin met the next day and sent for the apostles, the door to the cell was locked from the outside. The guards were still in place, and yet no one was inside.
In Acts 12, Peter was imprisoned alone. Herod chained him between two soldiers and assigned four groups of four soldiers each to guard Peter. Apparently, Herod had heard about the prior escape. The night before Peter was to arrive in court and fight for his life, he was ASLEEP in prison. He was asleep chained between two soldiers in the pitch black of the cell. Herod's prison system could sentence people to death, and that is where Peter was headed the next day…to his death. In order for Peter to be able to sleep before a night like that at trial and being chained to two guards, he had to have had the peace that passes all understanding. As a matter of fact, he slept so well that the angel had to shake him to wake him. It was a sound, deep sleep. Lord, when I'm in my pit chained to the things that bind me and weigh me down, please give me that kind of peace.
The angel of light told Peter to put on his clothes, coat and shoes. It's important to realize that the cell was pitch dark. Peter could not have seen the hand in front of his face had it not been for the light of God exposing the clothes and items he needed. Peter got up, did as he was told and followed the angel.
In whatever prison (dark place) that you are sitting, are you expecting God to show up? Often times when we are in a pit, we are struggling and fighting so hard for what we think is ours that we miss God completely, and we are STRIVING FOR NOTHING! If we would just be still and listen, God shows up. He shows up in the way He chooses and when He chooses. He is never late, and He provides everything we could possibly need for what happens next. If we would just shut our traps long enough and look expectantly to God to handle the problem and to lead us out, our time in the pit chained to what binds us would be much shorter.
If you believe that God is in the future, if you believe that God is all-knowing, if you believe that God wants what is best for you – then why do you struggle against things that God hasn't led you to struggle against? TRUST. FAITH. Actually it is the lack of trust and the lack of faith in God – this is why we worry. This is why we become anxious. God is bigger than any person. God is bigger than any roadblock. God is bigger than any plan that a human being can come up with. God is bigger than any disease. God is bigger.
What would your faith look like if when you first found yourself in a pit if you would stop and wait on the Lord? What would your walk look like if when you found yourself chained to something you had no control over if you looked to see how God was going to work it out instead of your trying to bust the chains? What would your life be like if you exercised the peace that passes all understanding? Trust Him. Faith Him. Easy to say. Hard to do.