Slavery is a strong word. It automatically conjures up images of human slavery in the United States many years ago. For some it reminds them of the struggles of human trafficking that are prevalent around the world today. We think of abuse and chains and the injustice of it all. But slavery is not just limited to human oppression. Slavery affects almost every single person.
All of us have found ourselves in bondage. For some it has been addictions or bad habits. For others it has been debt or unhealthy relationships. Bound by something from which we want to be free. Recently, I read a verse in the Bible from Proverbs that says “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” (Proverbs 12:24 NLT) Hard work solves a lot of problems in our lives. I will address some of the benefits of hard work in the next blog, but today I want to talk about the reasons why we find ourselves enslaved to certain things.
Why do we find ourselves in situations where we feel trapped. Places we want to get out of but just can’t seem to break free. It is easy to have all of the solutions when we are not the one wrestling through a problem or addiction. When we find ourselves in those places we often get frustrated because we don’t know how we ended up there. We wonder “How did this happen to me?”. There are a lot of reasons why we find ourselves enslaved to things and situations. Here are three that might help you identify what happened in your life.
Sometimes we have legitimate needs. Sometimes there are wants that we have confused with needs. But our needs often can put us in a situation where we feel trapped. Two of the most common places where people are enslaved are debt and substance addictions. The interesting thing is that legitimate need can lead to both of these. Sometimes we have a legitimate medical need that creates medical expense debt. That same medical need may require a prescription to pain medicine which for many can lead to addiction. The medical situation needed to be attended to but it had unintended consequences.
There are other times our perceived needs have landed us in some very unfortunate circumstances. We may have believed we needed to get married or we needed certain friends only to get those things and find we had chosen poorly out of what we thought was need. Poverty places people in some precarious places just by trying to survive. It is one of the drivers of human trafficking as people are just looking for a way to support their family or feed themselves. Need can lead us to places we don’t know how to escape.
Sometimes we just do not know any better. The Bible consistently refers to debt as slavery. It may be the most common thing that people get themselves into and then struggle to get themselves out of. Unsuspecting young people are preyed upon by purveyors of all types of goods with the promise of low payments while enjoying the benefits only to discover that the payment is more of a burden than the enjoyment of the product. People go to college and get into debt with student loans expecting a high paying job at graduation only to discover that getting a job is not as easy as they thought and the pay not as much as they hoped. These things often happen out of ignorance. We connect in a relationship and have no idea the track record of a person. We are just oblivious to situations or the consequences and we end up trapped and have no idea what to do about it
Though need and ignorance can land us in some difficult spots, the majority of our problems come from laziness. I don’t mean we refuse to work or do nothing, it means that we are lazy in the things that have caused the problem. There are very few situations in which a little hard work, discipline and dedication would not solve. This is true of poor relationships, substance abuse, debt, health issues and many others. Many of the things we struggle with are just a reflection of the places where we have the least discipline and put forth the least amount of effort. We don’t budget. We don’t exercise. We don’t communicate. We don’t get help. We don’t follow through. It is not because the problems cannot be solved, we just don’t put forth the effort to solve them. Hard work doesn’t solve every problem but it will solve a lot of problems.
What has you trapped today? What led you to that place? Are you in danger of taking a path that could cause you problems later on. Being aware of the things that lead to being trapped may help you avoid some undesirable situations.