Have you ever said to God, “What are You doing? I’ve served You to the best of my ability. I’ve tried to be an honest, godly person. Why am I suffering through this trial?”
Many of us have. Several years ago, my good friends Bo and Gari Mitchell endured an unimaginable time of trouble. Until then, neither of them had been guilty of anything worse than a traffic ticket. But that changed the day Bo stood before a judge who declared him guilty of a felony and sentenced him to prison.
The trouble started when two men who had contributed to a building fund at Bo’s church asked him to borrow $200,000 on their behalf to help resolve a cash flow problem in their business.
The arrangements all looked in order to Bo, and he was happy to help, so he secured the loan. In an orderly and business-like fashion the men held up their end of the deal and repaid Bo, who himself repaid the bank the full loan amount with accrued interest.
But seven years later the FBI showed up at Bo’s front door with questions.
I hold every branch of law enforcement in utmost respect, but in this case something went awry. Bo was charged with what is called “straw borrowing,” legally defined as borrowing money for a third party when you know they’re unable to borrow the money themselves. In essence, Bo was charged with being a middle man in a scheme to defraud a banking institution.
Bo, and those supporting him, all believed he deserved a slap on the wrist. He had no criminal record, he had paid back every dime, and he clearly had no criminal intent. Bo was even advised to plead guilty, which he agreed to because he assumed he would receive probation. Instead, the judge shocked everyone by sentencing Bo to 11 months in federal prison.
To make matters worse, at the same time Bo was sent to prison, Gari began struggling with an illness that impacted her life for the next 10 years. She felt like she “had been thrown off the edge of the Grand Canyon” with no parachute and nothing to catch her.
Both Bo and Gari cried out “why?” to God. Their faith was tested. But through it all, both remained committed to their belief that God was in control.
They leaned heavily on Psalm 66:10-12: “For You, O God, tested us. You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison. You laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads. We went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance.”
As the months went by, God taught them that He was in control of their lives, even when everything appeared to be unraveling around them.
I’d love for you to hear Bo and Gari tell their story. They’re sharing it with our listeners on yesterday’s and today’s editions of our daily broadcast. Join us, won’t you?
You can hear today’s episode, “Discovering God’s Grace Behind Bars,” on your local radio station. Catch the first part online or on our free phone app.
Bo and Gari also have a book that I think will encourage you if you’re trying to get through some difficult days of your own. Discover help to make it through your struggles with your faith intact in Grace Behind Bars: An Unexpected Path to True Freedom. It can be found in our online bookstore.
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