Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB)
Paul considered that his imprisonment was from the Lord. He wasn’t bitter, but he was concerned for those Believers with whom he had interacted, to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. Why is this? I believe that it is because Paul could no longer walk among them. God had imprisoned Paul for the purpose of writing the Epistles which would ultimately become a large portion of the New Testament. Now Paul didn’t know that while he was writing them. Perhaps his imprisonment perplexed him, made him feel trapped and useless a bit. But Paul did not become bitter and began to do his “walking in a manner worthy,” through the writing of letters to all the Churches he had helped establish.
God has a purpose for all the happenings in our lives, whether we are walking in freedom, or we feel imprisoned within our circumstances. God has a perfect plan. God promises us that He will work all things together for our good and calls us to love Him and trust His purpose for our lives (Romans 8:28). There were times that I felt imprisoned at home with three little ones under my feet, but I knew I was called to raise them up. Looking back now, I see how important that really was, and what an awesome privilege it was. I work in a learning center with young children now, and I see mothers every day, who wish they could stay home with their little ones. I was blessed, and enjoyed that blessing immensely, even on the days I felt trapped. I love what Henry Blackaby says about our circumstances in his book Experiencing God.
“Never allow your heart to question God’s love. Settle it on the front end of your quest to know Him and experience Him: He loves you. Every dealing He has with you is an expression of His love for you. God would not be God if He expressed Himself in any way other than perfect love! What you believe about God’s love for you will be reflected in how you relate to Him. If you really believe God is love, you will also accept that His will is always best.”’• Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God
God was using Paul’s imprisonment, to help us learn to walk in a manner worthy. If Paul had not been imprisoned, he would have just gone to the Churches in person and shared his heart. Because of his imprisonment, we have the writings that God accomplished through Paul to teach us how to live the life of faith we have, and to glorify God in all we are.
So yes, at times we are all “the prisoners of the Lord,” for a purpose, and that purpose cannot necessarily be known while we walk the earth. Trust God in your circumstances. He has reason for all He does, and He promises to work it all for good, as we love and trust Him and His purposes for our lives.