By: Greg Miller
People don't like to attribute "bad" things to God, so it is often said that God doesn't necessarily orchestrate those events in our lives that cause us pain or suffering. I'm not sure that an inmate at the Beaver County jail would agree. Two Sundays ago during our bible study he stated, "God put me in jail to save me and make a new man out of me." That isn't something you might expect to hear. But he was sincere. He observed that his lifestyle was keeping him away from God, the church, and the Bible. He wasn't opposed to God and the church, he was just too wrapped up in a destructive lifestyle to care.
Being incarcerated, though, left him with not much to do during the day. So he decided he would start reading the Bible and attending Bible studies. That process opened his eyes to the Lord in a new way. He is walking a new path of faith and wants to continue to do so when he gets released. He realizes that had he not been arrested and jailed, he would not be on this path. Thus, he sees God's gracious, saving hand in his incarceration. I suspect that Paul, Silas, and the Philippian jailer would agree (Acts 16:24-33).
How do you deal with the pain in your life? Our first response is usually to try to make it go away. However, the pain is not there by accident. God uses it for good and to discipline us. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). "'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' ...For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11).
Discipline is good for us and shows us God's love for us. We know that, but it is really hard to live it out. Amazingly, a man in the Beaver County jail may have something to teach us. He can see God's hand in "bad" things. May God give us the ability to do the same.