Many of us live life in a state of frustration and veiled resentment. We feel we could serve God so much more effectively if only something were different in our lives. We long for a different job, perhaps, or for more free time; we feel hampered by our health or hindered by our circumstances and dream of a future date when we will have the time, health and money to serve God without hindrances.

When we read the Bible, however, we see that service occurs in inauspicious circumstances for the most part. A slave girl in Aram speaks God’s word to a commander in the army and as a result he is healed. (2 Kings 5) Daniel serves God in a foreign land to which he’s been hauled as a captive. Ruth serves God in the midst of widowhood and loss. Paul writes letters we’re still reading while he is in prison for the gospel’s sake. None of these circumstances looked ‘favourable’, but all of these people had learned the secret of being thankful and content wherever they were and served God no matter what their circumstances.

Nicky Gumbel says, “Rather than looking to the future when you might be in a better situation to serve God, focus on how you can serve God in the present, whatever your situation.” God’s word urges us to make the most of every opportunity and to be gracious in speech and actions. (Col 4:2-4) This applies to every one of us in every situation. All of us, even the housebound and ill, can pray and thus participate actively in God’s work. Prayer is partnership with God!

Paul asked others to pray for him – not that he be released from the prison (which might have been my prayer in his position!), but that he might proclaim the message of Christ clearly. We can pray for people to do this wherever we are and in so doing can begin to serve God wherever we are.