We all deal with our own personal prisons. For some it is living with pain from the past. For others it is dealing with fear of the future. Perhaps it is neither past nor future that binds us; the present looms with countless prisons that confine. Materialism can put us behind bars; workaholism becomes a ball and chain (even in ministry); addictions can lock us up. The great Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once rightly remarked, “Many are the prisons of affliction in which the Lord’s servants are shut up.”
So what personal prisons hold you today? Regardless, I have good news: you are not alone!
David delivered a most amazing promise from God in Psalm 23:3—“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” God has promised never to leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Whatever you are going through right now, you are not going through it alone; God is right there with you.
When Nebudchadnezzar sentenced Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to die in the fiery furnace, the Lord came and walked with the young Hebrew boys in the flames (Daniel 2:25). When Paul was locked up in prison, “The Lord stood by him” (Acts 23:11). The same Lord who had walked in the Garden of Eden, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and died on Golgotha’s Hill now stood beside Paul in prison. And He has promised to do the same for you, regardless of the prison you are facing. This should not only be a source of great comfort to you, it should be a source of powerful motivation to rise above your circumstances!
If your prison is of your own making, you can feel very far away from Jesus, even though He is standing right next to you. The seduction of sin shatters the “shalom,” the sense of peace and wholeness that you experience with your Savior, causing you to feel remote from Him. Knowing that Jesus stands with you strengthens you to fight against the powers of your personal prisons by appropriating the grace He provides for you to fight—and win—your battles. When sleep departs and the silence screams, Jesus is still with you!
If your prison is the result of persecution because you have chosen to live for Jesus regardless of the cost or circumstance, Jesus stands alongside you to strengthen and comfort, just as He did for Paul, giving you all the grace you need to finish your race.
Remember, Jesus stood with Paul when he was faithfully serving Him; He also stood with Peter after he had denied Him three times. He is always for you, even when you are against Him. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!