I watched Sir Trevor McDonald’s documentary ‘Inside Death Row’ last Thursday. It provided some disturbing insights into the reality of a life term meaning ‘life’ and the death penalty. I was struck by Sir Trevor’s interview with a prison barber, who was serving a life sentence for murder. When asked how he coped with his sentence, the barber replied:
You do time a day at a time, or an hour at a time, or a minute at a time.
Whatever it takes to get through.
And then one day, you look up and 37 years have passed.
This reminded me of a Bible verse I clung to when I was ill with chronic fatigue: ‘Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.’ This is my journal entry for the day I read that verse:
‘All day long’ - how appropriate. Everyone has the same amount of time but when you’re ill the days seem very long. I deliberately choose to put my hope in God when I need to get out of bed, when I’m in the bathroom, when I’m making a cup of tea, when I’m sitting in the lounge. Through every minute of every hour – in the highs and the lows – I choose to put my hope in God. Why? Because He is God. And because He never lets me go. And because this isn’t all there is, there is so much more to come.
Prison is prison. You may not be in a cell with bars across the window and a door with a handle on the wrong side, maybe you have an illness or painful memories that are keeping you locked into yourself. All kinds of things can make us feel imprisoned. Maybe your circumstances right now are tough. For example, my neighbour has started having her television on loudly – the only rooms where I’m not disturbed by the noise is my kitchen, which is too small to sit in, and my spare room which is full of furniture while we redecorate the lounge, having had sound proofing installed because of the noise from her television. If I think of having to endure months and possibly years of this disruptive noise, I lose my peace of mind and feel tense, angry and despairing. But if, each day, I purposely put my hope in God and take it one day at a time (sometimes one hour or one minute at a time if that is what is needed), I can get through. With God’s help, today I can cope. And I’ll try not to worry about tomorrow!
When missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped by extremists in the Philippines a few years ago, they had to learn the valuable lesson of coping with their ordeal day by day, hour by hour. Martin often encouraged Gracia, ‘This time will seem so short when we are free’.
Whatever your situation, your spirit doesn’t have to be in prison. Put your hope in God. All day long, hour by hour, for as long as it takes.