“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God…..Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me” Psalm 69:1-3,16
I would venture to say that everyone, at one time or another, has felt like a prisoner to their circumstance. For some it is a momentary issue, for others it seems like forever. Ecclesiastes reminds us that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl 3:1). Well-meaning people will tell you that you must be in a difficult season in your life.
I really just want to throw water on them and watch them melt. (Yes I know it was just a movie)
Most of the time I am the eternal optimist. Everything is great. It’s all good. Life goes on. I have seen more than one set of eye rolls when I point out that I still have so much to be thankful for. But sometimes……
The phone call comes.
The doorbell rings.
The letter gets opened.
The silence becomes deafening.
In a split second your life goes from dancing among the flowers to knee deep in a dismal swamp with the worst thing being that you have no idea how you got there. You feel like Cinderella as she stood, mop in hand, watching her sisters head off to the royal ball. You find yourself wondering out loud how you went from princess to prisoner in such a short time.
One of the worst things in today’s world is how much you can see from your place behind the glass. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other technology are a constant reminder of how much better off everyone else is and how miserable you are. That party everyone is going to. That restaurant everyone gets to eat at. That concert everyone gets to go to. That award that someone else’s child wins. That wedding that someone else gets to have. That smile that everyone else seems to have.
You feel like David as he cried out to God in Psalm 31:12 “I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.” You feel alone in your prison. Surely no one else could ever understand what you are going through. You are the only person this has ever happened to. There is no one who can help.
Having just come through another “difficult season”, I sat pondering the events of the last year. In my maturity (ok…in my old age) I have learned a few things about the seasons of our lives and the prison we often find ourselves in.
First off, no one will know you’re in a prison if you don’t tell them. Your friends don’t wake up in the morning and say “hey…let’s invite Michelle to the party this evening because we know she can’t go and that will make her feel really bad.” If you aren’t honest about the place you find yourself in, then your friends won’t know you need some help making it through. (that being said don’t become a whiner who complains about life constantly. Then no one wants to help you) You might be surprised at just who among you has a mentally ill child, an aging parent, a loved one in prison, a baby given up for adoption, has been sexually abused, divorced, never married. The list is endless as are those who think they are the only ones behind the gates of the prison. Don’t try to do this alone. Ask for help. You will need it.
Second, ask your friends to pray for you and with you. Invite them over to hold your hand and cry out to the Lord together. Let them stand in the gap for you when you are on your knees in despair. Offer up your weakness to the Lord in front of those you trust. You might just find out (you WILL find out…trust me) that you are not alone. Others have walked this walk before. Sometimes more than once.
Lastly, figure out a way to serve others, even when the only thing you can do is pray or make macaroni and cheese out of a box to deliver to a fellow prisoner. God’s Word remind us to “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) You truly do forget about your chains when you are helping someone else carry theirs.
Dearest Father God, we are all bound in some way to our circumstance. We know that You have placed us here and that You can see the end of our story. Let us rely on You and only You to make it through. Like Paul, let us sing and praise You even from within the walls of our personal prison. Give us faith to believe that You will break down the walls around us, leaving us free to share our joy with those around us. You are a Mighty God, and Awesome God, and we trust in Your perfect sovereignty in our lives. In the Name of the One who died for us, Jesus Christ, Amen
Photography by Michelle Welch/all rights reserved
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