Last weekend I received an email from a woman who has struggled with anorexia for 35 years. “I’m desperate,” she wrote. “Please, can you share any insights with me? Can you tell me where to find help?”
This woman feels like she’s in a prison. And for good reason. She’s been trapped by untruths that are slowly and persistently devouring her sense of worth. This dungeon holds a death sentence unless she finds a way of escape.
Each time I speak at weekend retreats, someone approaches me and quietly spills her story. I can almost guarantee it falls into one of these categories: Abortion. Sexual abuse. Alcoholism or drug abuse. Abandonment. An extramarital affair. An eating disorder. A husband addicted to pornography. A recent loss through death. A prodigal child.
Sometimes these women tell stories of overcoming, of finding that way of escape, and moving into new-found freedom. But often they speak haltingly, their eyes filling with tears as they describe the prison they’re in. The chains of unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, regret, shame, and self-blame offer no mercy. But God does.
To no fault of his own, Joseph spent 14 years in prison. This was a literal dungeon reserved for the most dangerous criminals, but it carried the potential of becoming a prison of the soul, too. How did Joseph survive his experience without becoming enslaved by bitterness? How did he escape the anger that could easily accompany being falsely accused of rape? I think the secret is found in Genesis 39:21. “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love.”
The Lord was with Joseph then, and He’s with us today. That’s a truth we often forget, especially when our problems feel overwhelming. Here’s another truth – He wants to show us His faithful love in the midst of our difficulties.
We’d prefer that God show us His love by rescuing us and by doing it right now. We want a microwave fix, quick resolutions, easy answers. But life’s not like that. Our journey is often long and arduous, filled with hindrances, hassles, and headaches. But in the midst of it all, God wants to show us evidences of His faithful love. Do we see them when they come?
Personally, God often shows me evidences of His love through songs. Lyrics tiptoe into my thoughts at just the right moment and remind me of His faithfulness, of His strength, of His never-ending love for me. Sometimes He sends a phone call or an email via a friend or one of my readers. Sometimes the evidence is shown through a pithy quote or something I read in a book or magazine. He hugs me from heaven, reminds me of His presence, and I am free.
Now it’s your turn. What evidences have you seen recently of God’s love for you? How has He set you free from the prison of the soul?
Thanks for this helpful message, Grace. I’ve been struggling to write about what I call my own personal 9/11, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to. I’m praying, waiting on God to show me if this is something He would like me to do. Nevertheless, I know what you mean about songs. I’ve never told anyone this, but I’m amazed at how God pops songs into my head that I haven’t thought of for decades–and not only that, but if I pay attention to the words, they’re exactly what I need at that time! It leaves me astonished. Bless you for your ministries.
What’s holding you back from writing about your own personal 9/11? Is it fear? Is it too painful to recall? Healing begins when we look back at what’s happened and acknowledge what it did to our lives. I find, too, that the deepest ministry often flows from those broken, hurtful places in our hearts. God bless you, my friend, as you wait on Him.