Does your life feel like you are in prison? You feel confined, restricted, alone, and forgotten? Maybe you feel your freedom, privileges, possessions, and provisions are few and limited. You may even feel that God has forsaken you. Your life appears dark, gloomy, and hopeless. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Many people in in Bible had to do time in prison also even though they had done nothing wrong.
–Joseph was put into prison on false rape charges (Genesis 39:7-20).
–Jeremiah was imprisoned because the king of Judah didn’t like the prophet’s prediction (Jeremiah 32:2-3).
–John the Baptist was bound in prison because he accused Herod of adultery (Mark 6:17-19).
–The apostles were locked up in prison by the Jewish leaders for healing many people through the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:16-18).
–Herod the king imprisoned Peter to appease the Jewish leaders (Acts 12:1-4).
–Paul and Silas were put into prison for teaching about Jesus Christ and healing a possessed girl (Acts 16:16-23).
In each of the above prison examples, God revealed His presence, power, purpose, and providence. From these examples, we can learn much. What can the prisons of life teach us?
1. Your prison is a place of learning about God’s power
Although troubles and trials do not feel good, they teach us much. Think about this: How could Daniel have learned about God’s awesome power of deliverance if he had not been thrown into a den of lions? (Daniel 6:16-23) How could the disciples have known that Jesus could calm the wind and sea if they had not experienced the storm? (Mark 4:37-41) How would the woman with the blood issue have ever witnessed Jesus’s healing power if she had never suffered the illness? (Mark 5:25-34) How would Mary and Martha have witnessed Jesus’s power over death if they had not suffered the loss of their brother? (John 11)
It is our trials and prisons of life that reveal to us the presence, power, and providence of God in our lives. Without our troubles, we would never experience the awesome evidence of God and His love. Although the prisons of life can be painful, God uses them to draw us closer to Him.
2. Your prison is a place of opportunity to share God with others
While in prison, Joseph used his God-given talents to interpret the dreams of the baker and butler who were also imprisoned. By doing this, he was able to show the power of God to others. (Genesis, chapter 40)
While Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang hymns, teaching the jailer and other prisoners about the power of God and Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:25-32)
When you find yourself in a prison of life, look around you. Maybe God has you here so that you can show someone else about Him, His power, and His love.
3. Your prison offers you a choice
When you are in a prison of life, you have a choice. You can either choose to get mad, to give up, to rebel, or you can choose to submit to God’s will.
Getting angry and trying to fix your problems in all the wrong ways will only get you in more trouble. For example, you may decide to lie, steal, and cheat in an attempt to make your circumstances better but only end up getting caught and put in a real jail. Giving up on God will not get you anywhere either except despair.
However, when you make up your mind to seek God’s will, guess what happens? God releases your chains and opens your prison door. God makes things happen to deliver you out of your prison of life.
We see God doing this for Joseph, Jeremiah, and the apostles. When they chose obedience to God and focused on doing everything His way, God made things happen to set them free from their prisons. It is when we set our minds on doing things God’s way, when we submit to Him, that our chains are broken, and we are set free.
The quickest way to get out of a life prison is to submit to God’s will.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)
4. Your prison is a road to victory
You don’t get to the top of a mountain without first going through the valley at the bottom. You don’t win a game without first enduring the contest. You don’t experience victory until you first go through the battle.
Look what happened to these imprisoned Bible characters after they submitted to God’s will:
Joseph was set free, appointed second-in-command over all of Egypt, and given royal clothing, jewelry, and his own chariot. (Genesis 41:40-43)
Peter was freed miraculously by an angel and was able to encourage the faith of other Christians greatly because of his experience. (Acts 12:1-17)
After an earthquake broke their chains and opened the prison doors, Paul and Silas were set free to go and preach the gospel in many other places. (Acts, chapters 16-21)
What victory does God have waiting for you when you submit to His will? Focus on seeking God first in all things, including your prison of life, and He will bless you for it. (Matthew 6:33)
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57)