“Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” Psalm 142:6-7 (NIV)
My family often teases me because I am such a rule follower. I have an immense fear of breaking a rule, or worse yet, breaking a law. Doing so could result in serious consequences.
The other day, one of my friends failed to use her blinker and got pulled over. The officer only gave her a warning. However, he also gave her a troubling piece of information when he discovered she had inadvertently failed to renew her driver’s license. An expired license could result in a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail! (You can bet I set an alarm on my phone’s calendar to remind me to renew my own license long before it will expire!)
While I haven’t been incarcerated behind metal bars, I have been in prison. In a few seasons of life, I have felt as if I were in an emotional prison because of other people’s words or actions.
When I was a young girl, a family member’s immoral actions tore away my sense of security and caused me to fear the future, placing me in a penitentiary of fear.
As a teen, the gossiping ways of a few former friends greatly affected my social standing, holding my confidence captive.
As an adult raising young children, some acquaintances pressured me to adopt their exact ways of behaving when it came to matters of faith. Their stringent practices smacked strongly of legalism (following rules just for the sake of following rules) and stifled any freedom I had to live out my faith in a biblical but different way. It flung me into a spiritual slammer.
As I walked through each of these seasons of emotional turmoil, I felt like a hostage. I just couldn’t break free from the strongholds their words and actions had over me. The confinement hindered my happiness. The betrayal stung. The pressure brought anxiety. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to break free from those hurts.
Psalm 142:6-7 is part of a prayer penned by the anointed, but not-yet-king David as he was holed up in a cave, also longing to escape. He pleads, “Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.”
David knew he could not escape his dire situation alone. His combined enemies’ actions were just too strong. He needed God to rescue him. However, David didn’t just long to break free for his own benefit. He found a greater purpose: praising God the Father in front of others, prompting them to gather and observe God’s goodness.
Thankfully, during each season of emotional suffering in my life, God brought along strong believers who helped me see purpose in my prison. Without fail, as I determined to seek the Lord, praising Him despite my circumstances, I was able to unearth the good in the midst of the grief. This shift in perspective not only changed my attitude, but also encouraged others who were watching.
When we go to God in desperation, longing to escape from what — or who — is incessantly pursuing us, He is faithful to break the chains and set us free, giving others a glimpse of His goodness.
Run to Him now. He alone holds the keys to whatever is holding you captive.
Father, at the times I feel trapped in an emotional prison, help me seek You as my only way out and praise Your name so others around me can see Your goodness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 31:4, “You will free me from the net that is secretly set for me, for you are my refuge.” (CSB)
Psalm 34:4, “I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” (NLT)
When you're hurting, there are a lot of places we could run to. We hope Proverbs 31 Ministries has met you there, offering the truth of God's promises in the midst of devastation. Reaching a hand to pull you back up so you can keep moving. Keep believing. Keep hoping. Will you help us continue to reach women around the world with the only hope that will sustain them? We can’t do this without you.
Connect with Karen Ehman over on her Instagram account where she’s giving away a teaching video and five study books for you and four friends to dive into What Matters Most, her latest Bible study on the book of Philippians — a New Testament letter written by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison.
REFLECT AND RESPOND
Do you currently feel you’re being held prisoner by other people’s words or actions? How can David’s words found in Psalm 142:6-7 become a personal prayer of yours as you seek God for freedom from your situation?
Join the conversation! Let us know in our comments section how God has used His Word to help you escape from your personal prison and find freedom.
© 2018 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.