By, Marianne Barnett
Being thankful for salvation, family, our Bible, friends, and even jobs is easy for most of us, but how ‘bout when we’re in prison? Can we be thankful, grateful, and even blessed in prison? Webster says that ”prison is a state of confinement or captivity.”
Have you ever been in a state of confinement or captivity? Has your life ever been hit with heartache, failure, or depression? Have you ever felt like there was no way out of a situation?
Paul was in prison for somewhere between 4-6 years. Abandoned and forsaken, He was unjustly accused and sentenced to prison for serving the Lord and punished for doing right.
Where are you? What are your circumstances? How did you get there? Do you ever feel like you have been forsaken or abandoned? Do you ever feel like God has left you in a prison situation?
It’s important to note that before Paul became a Christian, he was an elite Pharisee. Because of his past, Paul had a connection with certain men whom he may never have connected with apart from prison. The prison you’re going through may be someone's connection to the gospel. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” To be thankful means ”Pleased or appreciated.” It’s a simplistic, superficial kind of thanks in our culture. It’s the feeling that a child has if you give them a cookie.
The word thanks in I Thessalonians is more like our word "Grateful" which means, “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; indebted.” It is such thanksgiving that it blesses others. To bless others means “bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.”
In the midst of Paul’s prison, here are some things that he was grateful for:
• Election – II Thessalonians 2:13
• Calling – I Corinthians 1:9
• Regeneration – Ephesians 2:5-7
• Faith of the people to continue praying for him
• Justification – Romans 5:1
• Redemption – Ephesians 1
• Adoption – Ephesians 1
• Perseverance – Ephesians 1:13-14, I Peter 1:5
• Deliverance from sin – Romans 7:24-25
• Victory over death – I Corinthians 15:54-5
In Christ, we have the ability to live the same abundant life that Paul lived even and most especially in our prison.
Being thankful in the midst of personal prisons though difficult, enables our light to shine brighter for Christ allowing others to desire Him too.
Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."