by Michelle Welch

“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

Chained. Imprisoned. Held captive.

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).

Most of the time I am the eternal optimist. Everything is great. It’s all good. Life goes But sometimes…

20140609_01aThe phone call comes. The doorbell rings. The letter gets opened. The silence becomes deafening.

In a split second life goes from dancing among the flowers to knee deep in a dismal swamp with the worst thing being that I have no idea how I got there. I feel like Cinderella as she stood, mop in hand, watching her sisters leave for the royal ball. I find myself wondering out loud how I went from princess to prisoner in such a short time.

One of the worst things in today’s world is how much can be seen from our 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 I am. That party everyone is attending. That restaurant everyone frequents. That concert everyone gets to see. That award that someone else’s child wins. That wedding that someone else gets to have. That smile that everyone else seems to wear every single day.

I 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.”  I feel alone in my prison. Surely no one else could ever understand what I am going through. I am 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, (okay—in my old age), I have learned a few things about the seasons of our lives and the prisons where we often find ourselves.

20140609_02First of all, no one will know we’re in a prison if we don’t tell them. Our 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 we aren’t honest about the place where we find ourselves, then our friends won’t know we need help making it through.

We might be surprised at who among us 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, etc. 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. We all need it at some point in our lives.

Next, we need to ask our friends to pray for us and with us. We can invite them over to hold our hand and cry out to the Lord together. We need to let them stand in the gap for us when we are on our knees in despair. Offer up  weaknesses to the Lord in front of trustworthy friends. That is when we find out (you WILL find out…trust me) that we 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 reminds us: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

We truly do forget about our chains when we 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 near to us. You are a mighty God, an 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.

Copyright © 2014, Michelle Welch, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Images from Pinterest and Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

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