Regret…that emotion experienced when the realization dawns that nothing can be done to “make things right”, seems to be one of the most prominent emotions inmates deal with in prison.
Regret is usually ignited when a relationship with a loved one or a stranger is irrevocably severed as the result of a decision and action which caused severe and very final consequences such as killing someone in a bout of anger, jealousy or “under the influence”.
Regret outside a relationship with Jesus Christ creates a dark and bottomless pit. The hopelessness and depression this create sadly leads to suicide or death by over-dose, soon after release from prison. Inmates with no hope of release (or not for a very long time) try to deal with this cancerous emotion without any possibility of finding peace of mind and more importantly…peace of heart.
Regret should obviously be avoided at all and any cost yet is a sad reality for all mankind, whether incarcerated in an actual prison or in the prison of a troubled soul. Thankfully the Word of God contains wonderful examples of men and women who experienced this same emotion, King David being a prime example.
Dealing with the causes and the irrevocable consequences connected to regret, is a tough assignment under “normal” circumstances, but made very hard when isolated in a cold and hard prison cell. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God very often work in tandem to “convict of Sin, Righteousness and Judgement” to help those afflicted to acknowledge their part of the situation and to repent as David did in a Psalm 51-manner. It is only after this point when the same Convicting Holy Spirit become both Counselor and Comforter to turn darkness into light.
Regret tortured David but the lessons of how he dealt with and overcame it, including being open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the counsel of an older believer and leaning on the promises of God, remain timeless.
Chaplains are in a strategic position to see what only God can do by encouraging inmates to study the Word of God and to deal with their sin, their regret and their future within a relationship with Jesus Christ who dealt with both the cause and consequences of our regret on the Cross. Pray for the chaplains at Chester County Prison to “abide in Christ” and to be lovers of God’s Word to avoid empty and shallow advice to overcome regret with humanism, logic, psychology and other “softer”, more popular methods.