Tuesday, Third Week in Lent

by Matthew B. Harper

Genesis 45:5 – And now do not be distressed, or angry, with yourselves… for God sent me before you to preserve life.

As an Army brat I grew up and knew people who had been shot. But it wasn’t until coming to prison that I knew people who had been shot on the streets of America. Too many of my friends have scars from bullets, knives, or other weapons. One of my friends, an alcoholic drinking 8 – 10 cases of bear a week before prison, will tell you point blank that getting arrested saved his life.

I could never understand Joseph’s feelings until I came to prison. Joseph was used by the Lord, and he was now a grown and mature man, a mature man of God. He saw that God was using him, and he knew God’s purpose was greater than his anger towards his brothers. His forgiveness was beyond what he could have ever offered on his own, it came from God’s greater purpose.

The mother of my victim has forgiven me. When I asked her how she could possibly do such a thing she simply told me “I can’t. It is of God.” That forgiveness is the greatest gift I have ever received.

I don’t know if God saved my life by sending me to prison, but I know God saved my sanity and my purpose in life. And for many of my Christian brothers going to prison probably did save their lives. This isn’t a path that any of us would have deliberately chosen, but sometimes it was the only way that God could salvage the mess we have made of our lives. Prison is not easy, it is a journey of constant suffering, but it is suffering with a purpose, when we allow it to be it becomes suffering sanctified by God.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord” BCP 150

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