by Heather Tietz
Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Prison is different for each of us. Perhaps for the great composer Beethoven, it was the quiet walls of silence which overtook his music-loving ears at the age of thirty.
But the man who had played for kings refused to let his prison determine his daily life. He sawed the legs off his pianos, sat on the floor and absorbed the vibrations of the piano keys. He continued to compose. In fact, one of the most joyous hymns was inspired by the final movement of his Ninth Symphony. Henry van Dyke took Beethoven’s tune and with it wrote the joy infused “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” a tremendously exuberant hymn born out of Beethoven’s silent prison!
Most of us haven’t had our faithfulness to God tested in a white-walled prison, but we suffer from figurative prisons all our lives. Like Beethoven, they may separate us from our dearest loves. Forfeiting certain foods, limiting mobility, restraining yourself from specific hobbies, chaining yourself to medicines, and tying yourself to difficult people can create a prison.
When we encounter tests of our faith, will we run away? Will we lose control of our temper? Will we accuse God of bad judgment? Or, will we keep trust in the God we love, whether we see Him, hear Him, feel Him or not? We can allow our prison to lead to beautiful music for Him.