Given the world changes due to COVID-19, some of us may feel like we’re in prison – or at least, under house arrest. Some of our members have actually been to jail or prison and know what it’s like. Whether’s it’s real experience or the current restrictions, you may feel like “bustin’ out.”
Because of this, it made me think of a few examples which may help our current perspective.
Example 1 – John McCain
- U.S. senator from 1987 – 2018
- Presidential candidate in 2000 and 2008
- Taken prisoner of war, October 26, 1967 in Vietnam
- Fractured both arms and a leg, ejecting from his plane that was shot down over Hanoi
- Nearly drowned after parachuting into a lake
- The enemy crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him.
- Then, they transported him to the “Hanoi Hilton.” (see map below – Vietnam is the narrow, salmon-colored country in the upper left and the capital city of Hanoi is in the north.)
- His captors refused to treat him; they beat and interrogated him for information
- Eventually, he spent 6 weeks in a hospital with marginal care, only after discovering his father was an admiral; he had lost 50 pounds
- He was in a chest cast; his gray hair turned white
- Transferred to another cell with other Americans; by looking at him and his condition, they didn’t expect him to live 1 more week
- March, 1968 – placed in solitary confinement for 2 years
- He was offered release when his father was promoted, so the enemy could look merciful and show that elite prisoners get treated differently. He refused – until everyone captured before him was released
- Beginning August, 1968, he was subject to severe torture – bound & beaten every 2 hours while suffering from heat and dysentery
- Further injuries brought him to the point of suicide (a different form of “bustin’ out,” maybe), but his preparations were interrupted by guards
- Finally reached breaking point and “confessed,” pressured constantly by the enemy for their propaganda purposes
- Still beaten 2-3 times a week for not signing more confessions
- From late 1969, POW life became more tolerable
- POW until March 14, 1973 – since October ‘67
- His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head
John McCain was injured and treated brutally for 5 1/2 years. So, what do you think kept him going? Love of country? Do you think he wondered about “bustin’ out” somehow? How does his situation compare to your current struggles?
Example 2 – The apostle Paul
- Paul was trained as a Pharisee; a religious leader of his day
- Born a couple of years after Jesus
- Part of the movement to persecute Christians after Jesus’ resurrection. Present at the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr for the Christian faith.
- Later, confronted by Jesus and converted, A.D. 34-35
- Took missionary trips around the Mediterranean and wrote 13 books or letters – about half of the New Testament (See modern map below of the Mediterranean sea and the ancient map of Paul’s journey and writings.)
Now check out Paul’s own writing of his trials, from his second letter to the people in Corinth (Corinthians), chapter 11, verses 23-33:
23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. 32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. 33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.
- Paul was arrested in Jerusalem around 57 A.D.
- Imprisoned in Caesarea 1-2 years
- Under house arrest in Rome around 60-67 A.D.
- Beheaded in 67 or 68 A.D.
You can see that the apostle Paul had challenges for years, including prison and house arrest. So, what do you think kept him going? This classic scripture gives us a great answer and great inspiration:
The Jews were God’s chosen people. Gentiles were “non-Jews.” Even in prison, Paul is asking for prayers to keep going – and to do it boldly. In the Application below, I’ll ask you to read about Paul’s “bustin’ out” scenario. But he refused, similar to John McCain, based on principle. How do Paul’s struggles compare to yours?
Example 3 – Jesus
- The son of God
- Involved in creation
- Many scriptures prophesy about him hundreds of years in advance
- Comes to earth as a baby
- Worked with his father as a carpenter
- Baptized around the age of 30 to finally begin his ministry
- Healed the sick, and performed many other miracles, while teaching his disciples and others about God
- Constantly undermined by the religious authorities
- Rejected by many, even his own disciples, temporarily, at his arrest; betrayed by Judas
- Prayed to avoid the “cup of suffering” (perhaps another form of “bustin’ out”), but also prayed for God’s will vs. his own
- Arrested, punched, spit on, whipped, ridiculed, made to wear a crown of thorns, carried the cross to the hill, crucified, mocked, speared (see “Passion of the Christ” movie still, below)
I share the photo above – not to sicken anyone – but to remind us of what Jesus went through, for you and me. All three of these men were tortured in their own way. They were imprisoned. You could say that Jesus was “imprisoned” or “quarantined” for the 33 years of his life spent on earth. All might have thought about “bustin’ out” of their situation. But all three had a purpose. Jesus and Paul had a well-defined purpose that we still benefit from today!
Do you have a life purpose that’s guiding you and helping you navigate through the storms of life? Would you like help developing one?
On a lighter note, think about what we can do from home now vs. ancient times. Think about Paul and Jesus – even though they were allowed to go out and restaurants were serving:
- There was no electricity, no heating or air conditioning, indoor bathing, hot and cold running water, restrooms, refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, washer/dryers, coffeemakers, etc.
- No cell phones or video conferences, computers, TV, movies, sports (as we know it), Email, internet, cars, planes, trains, subways
Sometimes I’m thankful, just for being born in this more modern time with all of these conveniences of life. I’m not sure how I would have survived back then!
No matter what we’re going through, remember this: You Never Let Go – Matt Redman
- Take an extra minute and read The Book of Acts 16:16-40 to learn about Paul’s “bustin’ out” opportunity – that he refused!
- Reread this lesson when you feel ready to complain or feel worried or uncertain about your future.
- Use the following:
Lord, no matter what we’re going through, I pray that we look to you, first. I pray that we think of our country and others before ourselves, as these three great examples show us and teach us. Help us see the opportunities as we navigate our own challenges. Let us always tune in to what you’re trying to teach us and tell us vs. complaining. I pray that we can help others see you in us. Amen!
May God bless you!
Thank you for attending The Path “Quick Church” in written form. The Path is our church “brand name,” connected with our recovery ministry, “Mission Addiction.” Let me know what you think of this message. What spoke to you the most? Feel free to like, comment, and share and/or contact us to go into more detail and work more on your faith walk together. It may still be possible for you to join our new healing and discipleship series that started August 3rd!