Read Philippians 4:10-23
I have never been in prison and don’t plan on being there any time in the future. It is one thing to be there because of something you did – robbed a bank, hurt someone, etc. – but to be put there for no apparent reason would be different. You could become very bitter and hateful or accept the situation that is beyond your control. Paul was there for the “crime” of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had already been shipwrecked several times, beaten and whipped, stoned and put in prison for preaching the gospel. He was determined to not let his suffering stop him from doing what he knew God wanted him to do.
Most of us will not suffer the extreme sufferings that Paul had to endure. We will not be put into physical brick and mortar prisons but could find ourselves in the prisons of our bodies and minds. It might be because of our own doing, such as addictions, but it might also be something we have no control over. It is our attitude that will speak much louder than our words. God will use it to inspire the people around us.
My cousin, Mary, was born with spina bifida. From day one of her life, she was restricted from having a “normal life” but not an inspirational one.
The braces she always had on both of her legs never stopped her from keeping up with the rest of us. It might have taken her longer to climb all of the steps in Grandma’s house, but she did it without help from anyone else! I asked her sister what her take was on Mary’s attitude and she said, “My parents let her know that she could do anything she wanted to do. She lived her life in that manner. She had joy in her heart and was thankful for what she had in life. She never complained or expected to be treated with special favor. She brought a positivity to life and people responded to that. She sought the goodness in people and returned it in kind.”
Summer after summer, she would lay on her back in a full body cast due to some operation she had had. My uncle would carry her out to the back yard and lay her on a cot so she could watch the rest of us run and play. Not once did I see her without a smile on her face. She knew how to be content in her situation, just like Paul. As a result, she was an inspiration to all who knew her.
What is your “prison” in life? What is holding you back from being an inspiration to the people around you? Do you wake up each morning, listing all of the things you can’t do or do you take verse 4 to heart?
Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS and again I say rejoice!