Mondays are my prison days. Every week I get the opportunity to join a group of ladies who give up their mornings to go encourage the women in our local prison. It’s a cool ministry. We have a time of singing, breaking open the Word, and then close out our time in prayer. Each week a different lady leads the Bible study time (I’m up in two weeks! You can definitely be praying for that!!). It is always a neat time, but also a bit heartbreaking to see how their choices have radically changed their lives. But the Lord is at work and drawing them to himself!
I wanted to share a story from today’s trip.
We had just finished up the Bible study portion and were asking for prayer requests. A few of the women shared a couple requests and then one woman, Mama, jumps in and says that she wants to give the Lord praise! When I look up, this woman’s face is beaming. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t wait to hear what was going to come out of her mouth. She was practically busting at the seams!
“Yesterday was so hot. And the folks that sell us ice don’t come by on Sundays to sell at the prison. During church we were just suffering from the heat. I prayed to God for relief.”
And it was stinkin’ hot yesterday. Like “you don’t want to move because it would take too much energy and you might die” kind of hot.
“And then, the winds started up. And there was thunder,” she said, with growing excitement, “and the RAINS CAME…AND THEN HE SENT ICE!!!”
Seriously y’all, there was ice. Tons of it. Falling from the sky. You Americans call it “hail”, but there isn’t a specific word for it here. It’s just ice.
Mama went on, “There was so much of it. It covered our whole area. See that place over there? It was full of ice! And over there? Covered! So we grabbed it all up and put it in our cooler! And we had cold water!! Praise the Lord! I just want to give him thanks for the ice. He heard us!”
When you think of hail, I bet you don’t think of it as a blessing. It usually has a bad rap. Car and roof damage. An indication of bad weather coming. Pharaoh definitely wasn’t a fan of the stuff.
But yesterday, it was the answer to the prayers of these women. And they recognized it as such. When they asked for some relief from the heat, I really doubt ice falling from the sky was on their radar. But that’s how the Lord answered. And y’all, I wish you could have seen Mama’s face. Ear-to-ear smile. So full of joy because the Father heard her.
Then it hit me. Am I this quick to attribute thanks to the Father for the little things? Does it cause me to hit my knees in praise when he answers a request in a way I hadn’t thought of? Do I even recognize it?
They have so many reasons to grumble. Even with the hail. They could have griped about it, but they saw it as a blessing. In the midst of crappy situations, a few of the women have chosen joy over bitterness. And what a testimony that is!
May we all be challenged to follow their example. Today…choose joy!
An unexpected lesson from behind the prison walls. I think these women will continue to challenge me.