Sometimes there’s only one way out.
While working as an N.Y.C. firefighter, one of the first things I learned was that fire had a nasty habit of doing things you didn’t anticipate. Even though a big part of our training centered on being prepared to expect the unexpected, out-of-control fire never ceased to amaze me. When operating in a fire situation, the variables are too numerous to get it right every time. The worst fear was being trapped by a sudden change of conditions at the fire scene, which, unfortunately, was a very real possibility.
For this very reason, early on in my career, I substituted a bull’s collar for a belt and kept 30ft of mountain climbing rope in my turn-out coat pocket. The bull collar had a 2-inch diameter steel ring stitched between double leather, which could be quickly attached to a karabiner (repelling device). It gave me an extra sense of security…a way to escape an intolerable situation.
Like the unpredictable fire scene, life inevitably brings difficult, unexpected things our way leaving us feeling emotionally trapped with no way out. Situations and circumstances converge to make life seem unbearable and hopeless. The stress and anxiety of these impossible situations can be overwhelming. Yet, no matter how severe the trial or affliction, the Bible plainly states that with the test, God will provide “a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [tried] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor.10:13). The way to escape may not be immediately obvious; nevertheless, a door opens in God’s perfect time.
“For the child of God, everything is under the control of our Heavenly Father.”
Our trials, suffering, and tribulation are not meaningless, although the purpose is often hidden from us in the present. No matter how perplexing and seemingly senseless our trials appear, they are always meant to do us good in the latter end. Our part is to trust, and God’s part is to make a way of escape that we may be able to bear that which seems impossible. When your back is up against the wall, and you feel trapped, Jesus is the rope. “And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isa.32:2).
However, God, in His infinite wisdom, sometimes chooses not to remove the infirmity. Consider the apostle Paul’s request regarding a “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Cor. 12:8-9. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Thus God proportions our trials and afflictions to the amount of strength that He has committed to us within.”
Therefore sometimes, the way to escape is simply, in genuine faith, to ask the Lord to supply the grace to endure, the strength to overcome. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)
“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:29-31)
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [trials]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, who mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isa.26:3)