Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Lessons From Prison
These are some of the frivolous lawsuits filed by convicted prisoners across the United States (which are subsidized by taxpayers).
~ An inmate, calling himself a sports fanatic, complained that, as a result of cruel and unusual punishment, he was forced to miss the NFL playoffs -- especially the "classic " between Miami and San Diego, San Diego and Pittsburgh, and Dallas and San Francisco. (Arkansas)
~ An inmate complained because his meal allegedly was in poor condition. He claims his sandwich was soggy and his cookie was broken. (Brittaker v. Rowland)
~ An inmate who murdered five people sued after lightning knocked out the prison's TV satellite dish and he had to watch network programs, which he said contained violence, profanity, and other objectionable material. (Jackson v. Barton)
~ An inmate sued to be given Reeboks, Adidas, Pony, or Avia hightops rather than the inferior brand sneakers issued by the prison. (Brown v. Singletary)
~ An inmate sued for not receiving his scheduled parole hearing, though he was out on escape when the hearing was to be held. (Young v. Murphy)
~ An inmate sued because he was required to eat off of a paper plate. (Procup v. Strickland, et al)
~ An inmate sued because he didn’t like his mail being stamped in a way that indicated it was being sent from a state prison (California)
~ An inmate who was a murderer sued for $25,000, claiming a "defective" haircut resulted in lost sleep, headaches, and chest pains. (New York)
We get quite a different picture of a prisoner in the New Testament by the name of Paul. While he wasn't afraid to demand his rights (Acts 22:25; 25:11), neither was Paul one to whine and complain and mope while in prison (and he hadn't even committed a crime!). Listen to this positive statement which comes from Paul's pen as he sat in chains:
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly..... And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice." (Philippians 1:12-14, 18b).
This passage is an encouragement to me in those times when it seems that life is treating me unfairly. If Paul could maintain such a positive spirit and joy in the midst of such difficulty, surely I can do the same. There is much to be thankful for!
“Father, help me to truly understand that what matters most in life is not being comfortable, being stress-free, or even being treated fairly. What matters most is that I am living in a way that brings you the glory and draws others around me closer to you. Please help me to do that. In Jesus’ name, amen.”