With a pen in his hand and a burden on his heart, the aging apostle carefully wrote on the dimly-lit parchment scroll. Chains about his wrists clanged noisily and encumbered his progress, reminding him he was still a prisoner. Yet his mind was unbound. Paul chose to look outward rather than focusing inward on his circumstances: How are the churches doing? Have they heeded my warnings? I need to keep them in prayer. His passion for other believers and their needs was readily apparent in his letters.

Most of us will never have to experience anything close to those hardships Paul endured for Christ, yet when we face trials, we don’t handle them too well. We grow self-centered and forget others are struggling in similar or worse circumstances. We forget how much God has blessed us, and we forget He’s in control.

Was Paul perfect? No. But he knew his perfect Savior could use a willing, though imperfect vessel. He desired in all things to be usable to Christ. Can Christ use you in the middle of a heartbreaking divorce? Yes, He can. Could He use you even though you’ve made a mess of your life? He not only can, but does. When your life unravels, think of something for which you’re thankful and someone for whom you will be prayerful. If God can use a prisoner, He can use you.

Life is an exciting business, and it is most exciting when it is lived for others. — Helen Keller

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.