Using Broken Times
He wasn't wasting the time. Imprisoned for his beliefs, the apostle Paul used his time behind bars writing letters to encourage believers struggling in their faith. Because he used that time to build up others instead of waiting to get released from wrongful imprisonment, we now have a significant portion of the New Testament to direct our walk with God. It is very probable that had Paul not been imprisoned, he would not have written the letters. He would have been too busy ministering directly with believers throughout his sphere of influence.
We can use Paul's example when we walk through challenging times. Although we don't enjoy the times of hurt, sickness, joblessness, loss, grief or financial instability, we can allow God to use those events to strengthen our walk with Him. We can let God use us to help others instead of focusing only on our own pain.
Some of the strongest people I know handle tough times quietly, all the while helping others in their time of need. Often it is much later that I find out they were dealing with something painful or stressful but leaned upon God to help them through. I'm sure they had people close to them praying for them, but they didn't focus on their problems. These warriors continued to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around them, just like the apostle Paul.
I am reminded of a woman who was bedridden and initially felt helpless to minister to others. She chose to spend her time praying for others and then writing notes of encouragement. Her gift of prayer and support helped numerous people in their time of need.
These examples can challenge us in our troubled times. Even if we can't help others because of the current situation, we can use this time as a period of growth. We can study God's Word, pray, fast and look to Him to strengthen us. As we come through the other side of the struggle, we emerge stronger and with a deeper, more intimate relationship with our Savior. These times are not wasted if we look to God and not our own strength. God is our strength as seen in Psalm 28:7, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him."
My husband and I are currently watching several monarch caterpillars devour our milkweed plant as they prepare to build their chrysalis and transform into butterflies. I'm reminded of the lesson learned as the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. If someone helps it along, the wings do not become strong enough from the struggle to support the insect in flight. It is in the struggle to emerge from the chrysalis that makes them capable of flying.
This is true for us as well. The trials we face now prepare us for the future. We must allow God to use these challenging times to mold us into what He needs us to be. It's not a matter of if a struggle comes, but when. Let us determine now that we will allow God to make us stronger and use us for His glory in the next battle we face.