To be freed from your chains
The town where I live is shocked by a number of murders. It is horrible and I can’t imagine how afraid the victims must’ve been. I simply cannot make sense of how a son could kill his father and mother and then his brother with an axe.
He is found guilty and sentenced to many years in prison. That first day in prison his life is already threatened. A fellow prisoner comes to his aid and not much blood is shed.
Our prisons aren’t for decent people. There is little mercy. There is no love. And what else can you expect?
It is no walk in the park and you don’t want to read about it here.
Circumstances in prisons from 2 000 years ago up to the present time have not changed much. It’s exactly in such terrible circumstances that Paul found himself. He feared for his life. I suspect he also had to guard against possible rape. Remember, the people in prison are bad people.
In these circumstances, Paul says: 9It’s (Jesus’ victory over death) what you’ve heard from me all along. It’s what I’m sitting in jail for right now—but God’s Word isn’t in jail!
When I look at the picture of our prisons today, I have more understanding of Paul’s suffering. This is not a nice picture. It was probably even worse than today. He was abused in prison like a criminal. He lived in fear all the time. His life was worth no more than the bowl of cold, watery soup and dry, stale bread they had to eat.
However, Paul does not focus on the circumstances. Yes, he admits that he is suffering, but he will not allow it to get the better of him. He focuses on Jesus’ message of salvation. And this gives him hope. After a bitterly cold night with little sleep, it gives him the strength to meet the next day with a song in his heart. He will face whatever comes his way.
Paul understands God’s message. He knows it and holds it in his heart. He knows it can’t be bound in chains. On the contrary! Nothing can chain God’s words. They are simply too strong, too big, too life-giving. And it gives him hope in a hopeless place. It gives him strength there where he is chained powerlessly. It motivates where others have no motivation to get up, to keep surviving.
That is what God’s message does. It becomes the fuel that keeps us going, even though the future looks dark.
This is an important lesson for us. Maybe the circumstances in which you find yourself at this moment are dark. Maybe you are afraid. Maybe you want to give up, exhausted from all the stress. Maybe you’ve tried everything, but there is absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel. Then it is time to turn to God’s Word. There you will find light. Love. Hope. Peace. Salvation. The answer.
Allow God and His Word into your life so that you will be freed from your chains.
2 Tim 2:8-13
What is holding you imprisoned?
What don’t you feel up to?
How can God and his Word help you?
Lord, your message can never be chained and made inactive by anybody. Your Word is alive and has the power and authority to change lives and circumstances. Please remind me of this when I find myself in difficult circumstances. Amen.