Summary: Through prayer, God will open a window of opportunity for us to work past our stresses, our conflicted feelings, and even our sins and shortcomings.
Life is tough. Am I going to get any argument about that?
The philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that human life was
solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Wow! Not the kind
of stuff we expect on Sunday morning. Supposed to be all,
“Praise the Lord”! But deep down, lots of people do feel that
life is tough -- solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Now most of us have tried to make something of our lives
anyway. We’ve tried to accomplish a few things. We’ve
gone to school and paid our dues, we’ve worked at our
professions and built our resumes. We think we might be on
the way. But have you noticed that whenever you try to
accomplish something, life gets even tougher? Have you
found out that when you push forward, something pushes
back at you all the harder? Just when it feels like you might
be getting ahead, something undercuts all you have done.
With your one step forward you take one or two or even
three steps backward. Isn’t that right?
Tough multiplies tenfold and nastiness comes in a
nanosecond. And yet, I am here this morning to proclaim
that when you get to that point – when you are fed up to here
– when you are consumed with how tough life is – that
is the moment when, through prayer, God will open a
window of opportunity. When the barriers are
insurmountable and it feels like you are a captive of
everything, God will open for you a window of
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, is in the
mature phase of his life. He is able to look back over a
number of years of missionary service. He has
accomplished a few things along the way. But in this church
at Corinth he is up against a wall. He is facing something
that could blow away all that he has done. He is facing a
factious, contentious, argumentative crowd who have gotten
bent out of shape. They have spent their days worrying
about who gets to lead and whether tongue-speakers are
better Christians than others. Yet they have casually looked
the other way while one member was in a sexual dalliance
and other members gorged themselves at the church’s picnic
platters! Sound like any church you know about?
Paul had worked and worked with this crowd. At one point
he sent them a severe letter, a strong reprimand, but it had
done no good. Paul saw all his hard work going down the
tubes. But thanks be to God, Paul remembered that one day
he had discovered that through prayer, no matter how strong
the walls, God will open a window of opportunity.
Paul remembered that years before, right after the Lord
Jesus had confronted him on the Damascus Road, Paul had
found himself trapped in the city of Damascus. He had not
even gotten started on what the Lord wanted him to do with
his life, but here he was, trapped in a locked-down town, with
no way to get out. But – Paul remembers now when he is
dealing with these crazy Corinthians – Paul remembers that
at the very moment when things looked the worst, and the
barriers seemed impassable, at that very moment, his friends
put Paul into a basket, shoved him through a window in the
city wall, and he escaped. His extremity, bathed in prayer,
became God’s window of opportunity.
It has been well said that prayer may not always change
things, but in prayer God changes people, who in turn
change things. When life is truly tough, and the walls
seem to be closing in, through prayer God will open a
window of opportunity.
Do you feel trapped? Explore with me the ways we get
ourselves trapped. Find out with me how God will open a
window of opportunity for us.
Some of us feel trapped by the accumulation of
stresses. Things have piled up on us, one after another,
and we feel worn out, burdened down. It’s not only what we
have to deal with right now; it’s what we have been dealing
with, all along, and it feels like it’s still here, right on our
shoulders, all of it. Stress accumulates. Did you know that?
Have you ever taken one of those stress inventories that
asks you to report what has happened to you in the last
twelve months, and it gives a certain number of points to
each item, then you add them up to determine your stress
level? The stress inventory wants to know if in the last year
you changed jobs, a family member died, you had a health
problem, you made a major financial decision, you took a
course of study ... on and on. Every one of those things is a