There are Prisons, and there are “Prisons”
Prison (obvious framework) A building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they committed, or whilst awaiting trial and legal judgment.
“Prison” (obscure framework)
A building/situations where people are illegally held, or exploited because of their vulnerabilities.
- A person captured and kept confined by an enemy or criminal.
- A person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation.
- Having no freedom to choose alternatives or to avoid something.
This kind of “prison” takes on many shapes and forms and attempting a list would be overwhelming; and indeed, incomplete. Therefore, I’ll be concentrating on “prisons” that are not of our own making. I’ll use three stories to explain how “prisons” can make and shape us, even though our “prisons” come through the hands of others…
- Jealousy, envy and revenge (Joe).
- Through life circumstances (Esther).
- Judgment, gossip and social exclusion (Sam).
Biblical stories that are used as powerful illustrations because they clearly highlight the different forms of “prisons” that others may be inflicted on us, with consequences. However, they went on to become world changers.
He was born into a wealthy family.
Loved by his Mum and Dad.
His brothers (10) hated him.
His brothers were jealous of him.
His brothers plotted to get rid of him.
His brothers tried to kill him.
His brothers sold him into slavery when he was seventeen.
He served as a slave for around thirty years.
Was ‘hit on’ by the wife of a prominent Ruler.
He refused her advances.
She lied (a woman spurned), she told her husband he tried to rape her.
He went to prison for three and a half years.
His heart never got bitter, resentful or revengeful.
End of story: he was given ALL power over Egypt and he saved many lives (including his brothers). (Genesis 37:1-50:26)
Her Dad died before she was born.
Her Mum died in childbirth.
Her Uncle brought her up as his own child.
Grew into a beautiful girl.
King took her into his harem.
The castle was her prison.
Her heart never got bitter, resentful, or revengeful.
End of Story: She became Queen and saved a whole nation. (Book of Esther)
Five men loved, married and left Sam (Samaritan woman). It doesn’t say she was divorced five times; they could have died.
She lived with the sixth man.
She was judged and gossiped about by her village.
The people she did life with excluded her.
Her shame was her “prison.”
She met a Man at the well.
She found love and acceptance.
Lost her shame.
End of story: she helped the very people who created her “prison.” (John 4: 1-42)
In conclusion, even though our “prisons” come through the hands of others, it’s what we do with the hand we have been dealt that changes us. In other words, it can make us bitter or better. It can isolate us, or indeed, it can prepare us and thrust us out into the world to benefit mankind, or likewise, influence those around us. The key is to forgive those hands that created our “prisons” and trust that the wounds will heal, as we learn to use the experiences for our good and well-being. Alternatively, we can spend our lives looking for revenge towards those who had a part in shaping our lives.
The “litmus test” of healing and restoration is when we are able to do good to those that have hurt us.
Famous people, that survived terrible abuse and broke free from their “prison” and became world changers.