Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
A lot of times in our lives, we have “if only” moments. Regret is often one of our strongest emotions, as we feel the permanency of bad choices or mistakes or simply circumstances we wish would have gone differently. Certainly Paul didn’t enjoy being imprisoned. But throughout his ministry, he had been depending on God’s leadership and trusting that wherever God led was where he was meant to be. Did Paul regret appealing to Caesar? Whether he did or not, God was working everything out to bring Paul exactly where He wanted him to be.
All of Paul’s past—being raised a Pharisee, persecuting Christians, his encounter with Jesus, missionary journeys, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles—as well as all that God had done in his life, prepared him uniquely for the circumstances he found himself in. God wanted him to go to Rome to be a witness, and He used Paul there in ways He couldn’t have used him anywhere else. And there was no one else who God could have used in the ways He used Paul in the Roman prisons.
God has an equally unique purpose for our lives. We’ve all had certain experiences throughout our lives that lead us to be perfectly suited to the task God has for us in the place He brings us to. Even what Paul had done before he knew the Lord prepared him to stand before these Roman rulers. And in our own lives, we may have done or experienced things before knowing Christ as Savior that have equipped us for a unique and special ministry God would have us do. He knew us before we knew Him, and He has been working in our lives all along, preparing us for where we are right now and wherever He might take us in the future.
When we live with the understanding that God uses situations in our lives to bring us where He wants us to be, we can have peace in a prison like Paul did. We can be strengthened and comforted knowing that if God has brought us here, He will continue to be with us no matter what we may face. Let us not allow regret to overwhelm us. If there is nothing we can do about a decision from our past, we must move forward with the consequences. Instead of focusing on what could have been, let’s look at what God can do in and through us where we are right now.