After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. ~ Acts 16:23-25
As I read the book of Acts I continue to be amazed at Paul’s complete submission to the will of the Father. Paul clearly sees that God’s plan is bigger than he (Paul) is. This passage provides an example of how God uses the perseverance of His children to save those who are lost.
Paul and Silas are jailed because Paul called a demonic spirit out of a slave girl. The girl’s owner had them arrested because he was making a living out of the girl’s possession. Once the demon was gone her mystical powers left with it and so did her usefulness to her master. So, in essence, the slave owner accused Paul and Silas of stealing his livelihood.
Paul and Silas spent the night in jail after being stripped and beaten. How did they spend their time? By “praying and singing hymns to God”! As I read this passage I wonder how I would spend my time if I were in a similar situation. Something tells me that I would be brooding over my unfortunate circumstance, not singing hymns. We are also told that the other prisoners were listening to them. What an incredible witness! Chained to the wall in the depth of the prison after being severely beaten, Paul and Silas never lose focus on the One whom they serve. Their ministry continues, even in the bowels of prison!
An earthquake causes the prisoners’ chains to break and the prison doors to fall open. The jailer awakens, and fearing that his prisoners had left through the open doors, draws his sword to take his life, probably realizing that the punishment he would receive for allowing prisoners to leave would have been far worse. But, Paul, Silas and the other prisoners were still there! Why? Paul and Silas knew God was at work and they had a role to play in accomplishing His mission. Apparently the jailer realized this too, for he asked Paul and Silas to share the Gospel with him and his family. The jailer brought them to his family, who came to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and were saved.
Paul and Silas were unjustly stripped, beaten, and imprisoned. Through all of that they maintained their steadfast faith in God and actively demonstrated that faith to those around them, even in a most difficult and unjust circumstance. God worked through Paul’s and Silas’ imprisonment to save a man and his family by bringing them to faith in Christ. Do I allow Him to work through me in times of trial?
Ponder this: It is not difficult to show faith in good times; but how do I react when things go wrong? Does the world see Christ in me, even when things don’t go my way?
My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for the faith examples you gave in Paul and Silas. Help me to learn and grow in faith so that the world sees You through me, even when times are tough. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.