Joy in Prison

To be accused unjustly of doing something you are innocent of is a painful experience.  Imagine living your life trying to do what is right only to be labeled as guilty and criminal.  It is enough to depress us and discourage us. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to be imprisoned for crimes you have not committed; looking at four walls knowing there is little chance you will ever be set free, knowing you might never walk freely among those you love and enjoy all the simple pleasure a free man has, such as the enjoyment of walking across a field of grass on a spring day or dipping into the ocean during the heat of the summer.  This was the case of the apostle Paul who was imprisoned unjustly for exercising a basic human right, freedom of speech. But Paul was not dissuaded. He was not discouraged in preaching the gospel. He showed no sign of depression.

Paul writes to the church in the town of Philippi while he was imprisoned. Instead of complaining about how unfair life was and how corrupted the government was or how cruel his enemies have been he tells them that being imprisoned is a great thing.  He claimed it as a victory because he saw it as an opportunity to preach the gospel. But Paul was already preaching the gospel before he was in prison.     Couldn’t Paul have reached more people outside of prison?  However Paul did not consider any of these arguments instead he saw an opportunity to reach people he would have otherwise not reached. (Philippians 1:12-13)

Paul also notes that many Christians were encouraged by his imprisonment. They were embolden because they saw that Paul was not depressed, or discouraged.  They too saw that Paul had not surrendered the gospel and others decided to follow his lead. (Philippians 1:14)

There are many circumstances in our lives that may seem unfair, even painful. It is often not easy to see opportunities in these times. However scripture does say “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Regardless of what we are going through we must try our best to see the purpose or trust that God will show us His purpose in due time. It will certainly be for His glory and for our benefit if we can remain encouraged. We also cannot measure the benefit it will provide countless others to witness our faith in practice.

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