“About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also… And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him… So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
“Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. An angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands… And he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and followed him… When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’ When he realized this, he went to the house… where many were gathered together and were praying… and knocked… When they opened, they saw him and were amazed… The word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:1-13,16,24
Peter, having just lost his close friend James to a capricious, cruel death by the violent and volatile Herod, was imprisoned facing certain doom. Jesus had warned of this, and Peter knew this was an opportunity to bear witness to Christ, so, flanked by and chained to soldiers, with escape a human impossibility, Peter was able to sleep. The Lord had this, and the church was earnestly praying. (Luke 21:12-15)
Panic is like a straitjacket, all-encompassing, restrictive, and paralyzing. It keeps us awake at night. When we focus on our troubles, fear grows until it is master, breeding desperation and choking all hope. But when we pray, we necessarily turn our thoughts outward, beyond what would bind us, and upward to where the victorious, sovereign King Jesus is enthroned, ruling with perfect omniscience and power. Prayer to Him in faith dispels panic, and opens to us expectation for His deliverance. Our very circumstance is the means through which God gains glory, as His intervention displays His marvelous might. (Colossians 3:1-2)
What situations– at work, with our health, in our nation– tempt us to panic because things seem to be deteriorating rather than improving, and we have no control? Would we turn from our shackles of anxiety and fear to pray fervently, and trust our faithful God with the outcomes? Our very peace and confidence, and God’s way of escape, bring honor to His name. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18,24; James 5:16)
Lord, help me see every circumstance as an opportunity to give witness to Your fame. May I pray, and trust, to that end.