It was a beautiful, sunny day as I drove past the women’s correctional facility where I had led devotions. The women were gone now, moved to another facility in another county. Yet I could still see their faces as specific ones came to mind.

I recalled the young woman who had come to me in tears, pleading for prayer that she wouldn’t lose her kids. For months, she had been incarcerated, and it seemed no one cared. She was clean now, free of drugs, and determined to never return to the life she’d been living. Together, we prayed for God’s mercy and grace, that His words would empower her, and that He would reunite her with her children.

I wondered where she might be now. Had she been released? Was she with her kids? I knew the statistics were against her. Had she become enslaved again to her addictions? Had she returned to prison? I whispered a prayer for her.

I remembered the choir that sang at the Friday night church services I had attended. The women sang from their souls, praising the Lord with their hands raised and their eyes closed. They sang songs they had written, songs that spoke of the lives they had once lived and the lives they were living now by the grace of God.

I thought about the women who had almost reached their release dates. They were so excited about being released yet scared to death. I still carry a burden in my heart for them, because I know life outside of prison is hard.

Our ministry team prayed for God’s special protection for them. We prayed God would give them strength and surround them with positive people. And we urged them to stay in God’s Word because His Word is power.

I thanked God for the opportunity to go into that prison. Not only had I been able to share His Word, I had been privileged to meet some of the most courageous, God-fearing women this side of heaven. Every time I’d gone to that facility, I had received a blessing myself.

As I was giving thanks and reminiscing, God whispered into my spirit. “If people would remember the darkness and pain they suffered as a result of their sin, they would never return to the sin that cost them everything.”

Wow! How true, yet how hard not returning to our sin can be. Sin is comfortable. For many, it’s all they’ve ever known. It was all I had known for so many years.

I thought about my own life and the pain I had endured at the hands of my father. For years I had run from God and chosen the temporary comforts of sin to ease my inner wounds. Those choices seemed good at the time, but they brought devastating consequences. Fear. Anxiety. Pain. Chaos. Disorder. Destruction.

Sin always has a price. Think of how much it cost God. Redeeming us cost Him everything. John 3:16 NIV makes that clear: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We must never forget the darkness and pain that sin cost us–nor the great price Jesus paid for our freedom. Counting the cost can keep us from following after sin again, and it can keep us living victorious lives. “Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7–8 NKJV).