“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them.” Hebrews 13:3 (NAS)
There are many comparisons and analogies between serving time in prison and feeling imprisoned in your mind due to various mental and emotional issues. The following parallels give a vivid and realistic portrayal of what it feels like for many who battle daily the experience of being held captive and imprisoned in their minds.
It begins with the lack of freedom, control, or say over your own life. You are locked away and every choice and decision is made for you. You are disconnected from the outside world. You experience isolation, alienation, loss of identity, and loneliness. You remember what it was like to be on the outside but can no longer get there. You need, desire, and yearn for contact from visitors from the outside. You crave for those who will commit to continue to reach out to you and to stay in touch with you – to give you desperate hope.
Visiting someone in prison is not pleasant, easy, or comfortable for the visitor. It is imperative though for the one imprisoned, for without that contact the prisoner loses all hope of meaning, purpose and the will to go on. The visitor must realize the constancy of the need for the prisoner and how important their role is to be there. It is vital that the visitor follows through, that they make time, that they not get distracted, that they not make promises they cannot keep, that their words match their actions and that they take the initiative to discern the never ceasing pain the prisoner experiences. The prisoner’s access and ability to communicate need with the outside world is hindered and limited. He is dependent upon the visitor to pursue every avenue and opportunity to remain connected and in touch. The visitor, due to the fact that he or she is on the outside, is completely in the driver’s seat. The prisoner therefore is absolutely at the mercy of the visitor to have sensitivity and compassion. They can only hope that the visitor realizes the small things that make such a difference and impact on the quality of everyday life for the prisoner. The visitor’s life on the outside challenges them to have any real concept of what life is like on the inside daily. The visitor, after the visit or contact, goes back to his or her freedom on the outside and the prisoner remains in prison. For many a prisoner, they are serving life without parole. The prisoner’s only hope is that the visitor is willing to be a channel, vessel, conduit, and tool of the Heavenly Father’s compassion, mercy, comfort, and love.
“The tiniest pinprick of hope twinkling in our lives can restore us and empower us. As some wise person once said, human beings can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only one second without hope. And that one little second of hope can work wonders.” — Barbara Johnson
Reflections on IMPRISONMENT
Sensitivity is not on the list of spiritual gifts but it is essential for us to minister to others effectively. The list of spiritual gifts in Galatians 5:22-23 includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, His love and kindness should automatically generate sensitivity. If we are not sensitive to the needs of others, then we need to ask the Lord what sin might be blocking our connection with Him?
One of the major needs of hurting people is sensitivity. They need to be seen as individuals, not just part of a group of people characterized by a certain characteristic like depression, chemical imbalance or mental illness. Each person’s pain and suffering is as unique as that person and his/her own experiences. Although there are scriptural principles that apply to everyone universally, for most trials and tribulations, there are no “pat” answers.
Doubt and fear try to crowd in when we ask people to share their genuine needs. We have to create a safe environment if we expect people to share what is really on their hearts. Being Faithful is a great way to create a safe environment. Be careful not to promise to do things that you might not be able to do, no matter what the reason. It is better not to promise and to surprise someone, than to promise in good faith but be unable to complete your promise.
We can’t be perfect, but we can be dependable, sensitive and steadfast. We can make an eternal difference just by being reliable and caring.
Prayer for the hurting person:
Thank You for offering the abundant life that you promised in John 10:10 to all who will follow you and commit their lives to you as Master. Help those who have been so long imprisoned by pain and suffering to be able to accept Your love and grace as amazing and life-changing gifts. Help them to feel cherished by You. Help them to experience Your peace in the midst of their storms and may that abiding peace encompass their heart and mind. May Your presence permeate to the very core of their soul in intimate and long-lasting reality.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer for the helper:
Please use me to encourage and lift up those who have long been imprisoned by pain and suffering. May Your Holy Spirit breathe refreshing breezes of hope into their hearts to replace depression and despair. May Your mercy be like a comforting and insulating cocoon that wraps their heart and protects it from the storms of life. Shine the light of Your glory into the darkness of their prison and light the path that leads them to victorious daily life (in spite of suffering) that is found only in You. Reveal Your grace and mercy to them today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.