4 Joys to Grasp when your ‘Hands are Tied’

It can be frustrating when your ‘hands are tied’.
Sorry, but my hands are tied

‘My hands are tied’ is an idiom that means that you are unable to act or behave in a certain way because something is constraining you.

There is no freedom.

‘I would love to raise your salary but my hands are tied’

Have you ever had your hands tied?

You are very limited in what you can and can’t do. You have been restrained by someone else. It is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to bind your own hands. It is even more difficult though to release yourself from the ropes. The twin sisters of anxiety and depression can make their appearance.

What can you do when your hands are tied both figuratively and literally?

There are constraints on all of us all from doing what we would like to do.

Paul was a prisoner. His hands were literally tied. He was under house arrest, yet he longed to be with his closest friends who lived many miles away in a city called Philippi. He didn’t have the internet to have chats, or send emails, or to Skype. The best that he could do was to write letters.

Remember what letters were? You take a piece of paper, find a pen and write your thoughts down. Then into an envelope and post it via snail mail. Link’s provided just in case you didn’t know what these items were.

I think Paul might have felt like this.

‘I would love to be with you but my hands are tied’
‘I would love to help you on your faith journey but my hands are tied’
‘I know that you want me with you but my hands are tied’

Paul writes these words to his friends

What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Philippians 2:12, 13 The Message (MSG)

Paul wanted to be with his friends to help them in their personal journey of transformation and change. He couldn’t. 

His hands were tied.
Even so he was trusting God had it in hand. God’s hands were not tied. God could bring something good out of what seemed so desperately bad. 
Paul trusted in something bigger than himself. 
Paul in fact rejoiced in his situation. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4

4 Joys that you can grasp when your hands are tied.

1. God is in you. This is amazing. If you have asked Jesus to be leader of your life then he comes and lives in you. The Holy Spirit comes and fills your life. Paul writes that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
2. God is at work. God’s creativity is not limited. Just look at our universe and marvel at the creative energy unleashed. The only limits we have on God doing an incredible creative work in our lives is what we place on God ourselves. Freedom of choice is what God has handed us. God allures us to further and further transformation. Aslan is on the move!
3. God takes great pleasure in his work. Creative God shouts at the end of creation ‘It is good, very good’. Have you ever created something and in the process of creating you just get a great deal of pleasure? God is like this and gets a great deal of pleasure of being in charge of the creative process.
4. God has a bigger story unfolding. We can’t see the big story of what God is up to. I wonder if Paul had an inkling as to the absolute blessing his ‘hands are tied’ prison letters would have on billions of people. Hands tied released a freedom to write. Your hands maybe tied in one way, but how could this be used for some thing good in God’s big story?

Want to read more? Here is a link to a message I gave called ‘Working out what God is working in’.

  • How are your hands tied? 
  • What opportunities does this provide? 
  • How does it feel to know that God is at work in you and is taking pleasure in the process?

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Barry PearmanImage by penguincakes creative commons Flickr