I awake in a dark, wet, cave-like dungeon. The stench of human waste overwhelms me, and I remember that some of that stench belongs to me. And what other choice do I have here? It’s not like I can walk away from these chains to a proper bathroom facility. I’m not sure what’s worse: being isolated from my dearest friends or being bound to men who care as much about me as the rats that feed on the filth around me. The most I see of the outside world is the polluted rainwater and sewage that trickle down from the marketplaces above. I am always cold. I am always hungry. And I always hurt. Of the difficult places I’ve been, this is the most unpleasant.
I am left here with the memories of a dichotomous life and a desire to finish well. When I was younger, I was blessed by the fellowship of devout, honorable men. We took great care to “please God” with our hygiene, conduct, and diet. When I was younger, I was known as the man who was as close to perfect as could be attained. When I was younger, I was more unhappy than I’ve ever been.
Now, I’m not imprisoned here because I’m a dangerous man—at least not in the traditional sense. In fact, you could say that I’m here because I’m too loving. I love my God and Savior too much to stop living for Him.
My enemies have placed me here, and here I will patiently await the time of my trial. I have been in prisons like this one many times and have been released, but I feel an ever-growing confidence that this time will be my last.
Some of my friends have risked their lives to visit me here over the years. I cannot express my thankfulness for their faithful love. Even though this body of mine has been sorely abused, I am thankful. I am thankful to serve my God. He is the truly faithful one. I am in need of nothing. Whether or not I live on in this body, I do not fear. For I have learned no matter where I am to be content in the perfect provision of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Yes, I am in prison for faithfully proclaiming the life-saving Gospel of Christ, which I continue to do even here. Yes, humanly speaking, my treatment is unjust. But let me tell you, I am exactly where God wants me. Yes, I will likely die soon at the hands of wicked men. But I can assure you of this, in spite of it all, I count this suffering as a true privilege. There is no place I would rather be than where God has placed me. I am Paul, and I am thankful to be here.
___________For further reading: Prisons in Paul’s World; Philippians 1:12-26; & 2 Timothy 4:5-22.