While reviewing some old articles I came across three that had a common theme.
They all involved being trapped in a cage with a natural enemy. Back in September 2015, CBS reported the story of a prisoner who was to testify against a murder suspect in a trial. But prison guards mistakenly placed the witness in the same cell as the murder suspect, the man he was supposed to testify against – not the place you want to be. A fight immediately broke out and it took guards several minutes to pry them apart. Both the defendant and the witness for the prosecution were treated for injuries.
Another “cage” article appeared in November 2016 when a Phoenix, Arizona mom placed her son’s parakeet cage outside for the two birds, Petey and Snowy, “to get some fresh air.” But while the mom was attending other business, a hawk swooped down, wiggled his way into the cage and proceeded to attack the two parakeets. By the time mom returned, nothing was left of Petey but a few feathers. Snowy, however, had somehow managed to evade the hawk – still trapped in the cage with her.
Then, in January 2017, a video was published by numerous news agencies of a great white shark that was lured to the bars of a diving cage – to give the diver a “close up view” of the shark. But as the great white lunged after a chunk of tuna being suspended in front of the cage, his head became stuck between the bars. Since sharks cannot swim backward, the great white could only release himself by forcing his way into the cage. For next 30 terrifying seconds, observers from above watched the cage – now occupied with a diver and a great white shark – bounce about violently. Boat hands quickly lifted the hatch on top of the cage, hoping the shark might fight his way out. He did. Then after another 30 suspenseful seconds the shaken, but otherwise unharmed, diver came out as well.
Can you imagine being trapped in a cage with a great white shark? Or with a murder suspect you’ve been subpoenaed to testify against? It’s not the ideal place to be. Yet that’s what it feels like at times for the believer, the person of faith who is forced to occupy the same space as those who hate everything their Lord and Savior stands for.
To make things worse, the enemies of Christianity know that true believers are commanded to love their enemies, bless those who curse them, and pray for those who mistreat them (Luke 6:28, 35-36). So these Christians constitute a safe target to fire at, one that doesn’t fire back.
But the time, trapped in the cage with evil, will not be long – only a moment according to the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 4:16-17), though it may seem an eternity. Yet while we’re in the cage our Lord calls us to be faithful unto death, if necessary: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
And you must never forget, Jesus is with you in that cage at all times – just as He was with the three Hebrews trapped in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Daniel 3:19-29; esp. v.25).
Is there a growing tension between what is in your heart and what is in the world? Do you feel a growing sense of oppression from the environment around you against your faith and cherished values? Does your hunger and thirst for righteousness go unfulfilled? Do you feel like a stranger in your own country and in your own world? Then you probably belong to the world to come – the New Heaven and the New Earth of which only the redeemed will have a part (Isaiah 65:17: 66:22: 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).
So accept the discomfort of the cage. Its pain is the one we should embrace – and never seek to be free of as long as we are forced to dwell here in Satan’s domain. This sense of oppression and unquenched thirst for righteousness are positive signs that we are true children of God. Though the oppression we feel against our souls from a godless world causes us continual discomfort, we need to endure it. It makes us long for and love Christ’s appearing. Through this discomfort God is preparing us for heaven.
Dear Father in heaven, I yearn to be released from this confining and distressing cage. Help me to remain good and pure in the presence of evil and to do all I can to show the love of Christ within it. Amen.
If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.
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