Are we in a situation that we feel unable to escape from? is the prison of our own doing or not? Are our hands tied because we wished so much for something or somebody but are discovering that it was never God’s will the first place?
Perhaps you are in an unhealthy relationship, have sickness in your body, have painfully rebellious teenagers, are unemployed, are intensely disliked by a co-worker… At times, it is our own rebellion that puts us in ‘bondage’. Other times, it is not the result of poor decisions but simply consequences of standing for what is right.
Whatever the reason for our current enslavement, we are in an optimal place to surrender and offer worship to our Almighty God!
Many men in the Scriptures were imprisoned as a result of their faithful witness, among them Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Silas & Paul the Apostle.
Joseph was thrown into prison because he refused to be seduced by Potiphar’s wife and turned down her offer to ‘lay down’ with her. As a result, she became angry and lied about Joseph in order to throw him in prison. While there, the Scriptures tell us,
Genesis 39: 21-23 “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.”
Joseph continued to walk with God, obey His commandments, and be a witness. He steadily demonstrated responsible leadership, so much so that the prison keeper entrusted him completely with certain tasks. Joseph also worked and served every chance he had, thus showing good faith efforts, diligence, and endurance.
Genesis 40 recounts the story of the King’s butler and baker who fell out of favor and as a resut were thrown into prison. They were very troubled and ended up having vivid dreams which they were unable to explain. Joseph was concerned about them and invited them to share their dreams. Despite his own turmoil, he managed to set it aside and showed compassion. Even though he had been jailed longer, Joseph did not dwell on himself but instead, listened carefully to the concerns of the butler and the baker.
In the book of Acts, we learn of Paul and Silas being thrown in prison after being stripped and severely flogged with rods. While in prison,
Act 16:25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
Paul and Silas prayed to God and sang hymns unto Him. Additionally, they did such things loudly enough for others to hear and be freed. So even while in prison, the 2 saints kept focused on the great commission. While in physical and mental distress, they managed to forget about their own selves and desired to see others converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their primary focus was not to be freed from their own physical bondage but to see others released from spiritual bondage. As a result of their loud worship of God,
Act 16: 29-34 “The jailer […] asked: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
Let us look beyond the prison cell we are in and into the light of our salvation. God has already released us from eternal bondage and punishment when we gave our life to Christ. It is time to return to the fundamental message of the Gospel, embrace it with all the strength we can muster up, and realize how much more we have than this life can ever offer. In Matthew Henry’s words,
“No place, no time is amiss for prayer, if the heart be lifted up to God. No trouble, however grievous, should hinder us from praise… When the fruits of faith begin to appear, terrors will be followed by confidence and joy in God.”