Most of us, whether it be a prison of our own making, or one thrust upon us, we find ourselves, in effect, speaking or writing about our state to those who will listen. Such can be inspired by the Spirit as were the many letters of Paul in Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. Suffering seemed to motivate Paul to even greater spiritual service so that he would say; “For when I am weak, then am I strong” in Corintians 11.
None of us will experience that depth of pain and suffering, and I daresay we will never display that depth of conviction.
On the opposite end might be the famed prison letters of Marques De Sade, the imprisoned hedonist (pleasure is the chief good in life) and sexual devient. Locked up for most of his life, he responded “Either kill me or take me as I am. because I’ll be damned if I will ever change”. He was, of course, damned.
Much of our dilemma in life is centered upon our choices as to what we will do with our lives. Of all that I have read, Deidrich Bonhoeffer, the imprisoned cleric and scholar, may have put his finger on it. He writes in his “Letters from Prison”;
“We used to think that one of the inalienable rights of man was that he should be able to plan both his professional and private life. That is a thing of the past. The forces of circumstances has brought us into a situation where we have to give up being “anxious about tomorrow’ Matt. 6:34) But it makes all the difference whether we accept this willingly and in faith (as the sermon on the mount intends), or under continual restraint. For most people, the compulsory abandonment of planning for the future means that they are forced back into living just for the moment, irresponsibly, frivolously, or resignedly; some dream longingly of better times to come, and try to forget the present. We find both of these courses equally impossible, and there remains for us the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as if it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land” proclaims Jeremiah 32:15, in paradoxical contrast to the propehecies of woe, just before the destruction of the holy city. It is a sign from God and a pledge of a fresh start and a great future, just when all seems black. Thinking and acting for the sake of the coming generation, but being ready to go any day without fear or anxiety – that, in practice, is the spirit in which we are forced to live. It is not easy to be brave and keep that spirit alive, but it is imperative.”
While this says very little about the pain and suffering that we referred to earlier; we must count as the source of much pain certainly comes out of that conflict and opposing views.
We can not only be “imprisoned” by our moral choices, but by other choices as well.
Should we not then begin to write our letter from our prison of confusion asking God for His wisdom in every matter before the pain and suffering starts? He finds the way out when there is no way. The door is open. Let’s don’t shut it ourselves.