Captivity does not imply hopelessness.
The prophet Zechariah proclaimed to his people, who had only recently been delivered from bondage, “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.” Then, he added a promise from the Lord: “even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee” (Zechariah 9:12).
When Alma and his people were in bondage, the Lord responded to their prayers not with immediate deliverance, but with reassurances. “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort,” He said, “for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.” Thereafter, “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord,” until the day that they were finally set free (Mosiah 24:13, 15).
I have a friend who is currently incarcerated. He called me a couple of weeks ago, the day after Thanksgiving, not to complain about his circumstances but to express gratitude for the blessings he enjoys. He has a job which keeps him busy and enables him to earn money. He has a family who loves him. He has the gospel in his life. I was impressed by his positive outlook in an environment of severe restrictions. He is a prisoner of hope.
Today, I will be optimistic within my constraints. When I face difficulties, I will pray for help and then continue moving forward, trusting that those constraints will not prevent me from fulfilling my purpose.
We are all captives. Regardless of our circumstances, we choose our own captor. Work, money, drugs, status, rage — or maybe, just maybe the bonds of love and charity. We are not victims, as the world would have us believe, but captives of the choices we have made and the ones we make each day.
Thanks for the comment!
We certainly choose some of our constraints, and we sometimes unduly constrain ourselves by our choices. One them in the Book of Mormon, first raised by King Benjamin and later referenced by Mormon is that we receive “wages” from the person who we “list to obey.” (See Mosiah 2:32-33, 37; Alma 3:26-27.) I once wrote that Satan’s wage “does not qualify as a ‘living wage,’ and definitely falls short of the ‘minimum wage’ which we ought to expect for ourselves!”
Even though Christ sets us free, as you pointed out, when we follow Him, we voluntarily constrain our actions. Perhaps that’s why the apostle Paul referred to himself five times as a “prisoner” of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:1, 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1:1, 9). Of course, he may have meant that he had been imprisoned by others because of his faith in Jesus.
It’s worth pointing out that we don’t choose all of our constraints. We have no control over some things that happen to us, and other people sometimes can place us in bondage against our will. But even then, as Zechariah pointed out, the impact of our bondage is lessened by our faith that God will set us free.
Have a great day!
I want to push “like” but can’t find the button. 🙂 Mom
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