Fortunately, chain gangs are not as prevalent as they once were. Yet I have seen prisoners linked together with chains, working along highways. A person in that situation may sometimes be glad just to be doing something useful, to be away from the prison building and outdoors. We could say that, in proportion to someone's desire to do good, he or she can surmount chains of any kind.
God never puts chains on anyone. He created each one of His children in His image-sinless and free. Yet, at one time or another, most people do feel chained to some evil, be it poverty, crime, sickness, sin.
Even if you feel burdened, sorrowful, or helpless, you can remember this is not from God. His love for you is unchanging. You are forever at the point of perfection, as the reflection of a perfect God. His love supports and frees. It never imprisons. Basically, the chains that imprison are mental chains. Knowing God is what unlocks them.
The Bible tells of someone who had plenty of troubles: St. Paul. He had been unjustly accused because of his religious teaching as a Christian-a follower of Christ Jesus (see Acts, chaps. 27-28). But he was a Roman citizen and asked to be taken to Rome, to be tried in a court of law where his rights would be recognized. He was taken there by ship, but on the way the ship was wrecked. All on board made it safely to an island. Then Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake. He was expected to die, and the islanders felt sure his death would be proof of his guilt.
Paul could have been very despondent because of this on top of all his other problems. One thing after another! But because he knew his true identity, he surmounted each hurdle in his path. The Bible says, "He shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm" (28:5). He was also able to heal people on the island. In the midst of difficult times, Paul's allegiance to God turned things around. Even as a prisoner, Paul helped others. He didn't let chains of unjust accusation keep him from praying to God and serving Him.
No matter what thoughts are chaining you to guilt, to sickness, or to some bad habit you want to be rid of, you can claim your liberty as a citizen of God's kingdom today. The belief that you could be separated from God, or that you are less perfect than God made you to be, can be changed when you know the truth. Chains of false opinions you have of yourself or others have of you cannot keep you from glorifying God.
You are free today to express the unfailing health, integrity, joy, intelligence, and completeness that become evident through understanding God. Even the chains of limited education, a bad disposition, an inclination to dishonesty, terminal disease, or unhappy family relations can't prevail when the fact becomes clear to you that, as God's child, you are forever His image and likeness.
God determines everything real about us. He knows we are each perfect, just as He is perfect, and His power will help anyone to know, and to show, this fact. His power becomes evident in prayer.
Prayer will help you hold your head up high-to see that as God's son or daughter you have much to be happy about already. He gives "daily bread," which is made evident in just the right ideas you need today to feel Him with you. It's through understanding Him that you find you are forever linked to God.
Mary Baker Eddy, who studied the Bible and found in its truth a healing Science, Christian Science, wrote, "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 316). It was after Mrs. Eddy was healed of injuries pronounced fatal that she made known to others this understanding of God that brings healing to anyone.
At times, life may be tough. But at those very times, God is still with us. Turning to God, we find more than just good thoughts. We find satisfaction and healing. We know our freedom.