By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
A Reading from Acts 16:25-40
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
35 When morning came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, “The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul replied, “They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison, and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39 so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home, and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters there, they departed.
When life throws you a curveball — when something happens that knocks you for a loop — how do you respond? What about when you’re falsely accused, unjustly attacked, persecuted for taking a stand for what you believe? (You are taking a stand, aren’t you?)
It can be tempting to curl up in a ball and cry a river of tears, throw ourselves a pity party, or surrender to the feeling that we’ve somehow been abandoned or forsaken by God. But that’s not how Paul and Silas responded.
Just for faithfully preaching the gospel, these men were severely beaten and thrown into prison. It would have been understandable if they’d given in to discouragement and despair — if they’d laid there moaning in pain, or crying out to God in anguish, and left it at that.
But they didn’t.
The Bible tells us that at midnight, these men were praying and singing — but not a chorus of grief. No, they were rejoicing and praising God, singing hymns from their heart to his.
God sent an earthquake to shake the prison walls and set Paul and Silas free. And because of their testimony in the midst of suffering and persecution, the jailor and all his household were saved.
Few of us will ever be tortured and imprisoned like Paul and Silas, but all of us have “dark nights of the soul” — moments when discouragement and despair threaten to overwhelm us.
In these moments, we may need to cry out in grief. But may we also remember the example of our brothers in Acts 16. If we offer up a sacrifice of praise, our eyes will be lifted from the misery of our circumstances to the beauty of our heavenly Father’s face. We will find comfort and strength — and be a light to others — with our songs in the night.
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, M.A. (Bible and Theology), is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Port Moresby – The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
The Diocese of Tennessee