Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…
In the world of social psychology, the name of Dr. Craig Haney is a familiar one. In particular, Dr. Haney has become well-known for his research on prisoners and prison systems. From his research, he has concluded that typical prisoners will have to grapple with a number of psychological issues—issues that often come along with the reality of confinement.
For example, one issue is the prisoners’ understandable sense of dependence on those who are keeping them confined—something that can threaten to wear them down in negative ways as time goes on. Another can be a diminished sense of self-worth and personal value. This, in turn, can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. According to Dr. Haney, these are just some of the challenges that typical prisoners must be ready to face.
During his ministry, the apostle Paul learned what it meant to be a prisoner. Two times he endured extended confinement. As he did, no doubt he faced the very challenges that Dr. Haney details in his research. No doubt there were moments when he wrestled fiercely with the psychological and emotional issues that can vex a person in a prison setting.
Nevertheless, Paul accepted these consequences. He knew that it was his proclamation of Jesus that had landed him in prison. Even more important, he knew what he possessed through faith in Christ as his Savior from sin. As a result, he knew that any burdens he bore as a prisoner were all worth it.
As Christians, you and I bear burdens too. Satan makes us a target. He does all he can to distract us, to discourage us, to bring us difficulty and hardship. And we too have our share of wrestling matches with all the unpleasantness he can bring.
But just as Paul accepted the life of a prisoner, you and I can accept the burdens that come our way. We can accept them because we know what we have in Jesus. We know that, through faith in him, there is forgiveness, peace, purpose, life, light, eternal joy.
And that makes any temporary burdens well worth it.
Lord Jesus, when Satan tries to use the temporary difficulties of my life to discourage me, remind me of all I possess through faith in you. Amen.