By Tyler Warner, Calvary Chapel Trussville
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are thrown into a Philippian prison after a public beating. No trial, no chance to explain themselves. Their backs had been laid open with huge welts and bloody gashes that had not been treated. Sleep was out of the question that night.
So what do they do? They prayed and they sang. In defiance of the physical and spiritual darkness they were facing, they sang praise to the Lord. They did not use their pain as an excuse to indulge their flesh and complain or doubt. They used their pain as an opportunity to exercise joy and faith.
And it says the other prisoners were listening to them. These prisoners had seen the two of them dragged in, bloody and bruised and placed in the stocks. But now they heard them singing the glories of their God. It caught their attention – what kind of religion produces men that can endure such pain with a song on their lips?
Do you know that people are listening to you when you go through trials? When you face heartbreak or loss or financial difficulty or sickness, people are watching you to see how you respond. You may have spoken about how great your God is, so when the crisis comes, everyone watches to see if you were telling the truth.
Consider the last trial you’ve gone through. If we were to judge only by what you have posted on Facebook, or the conversations you have had with your friends, could we tell that you trust the Lord to bring us through for His glory? Or do you rage at the government or your boss or faceless masses online? Do you weep at the unfairness of God for permitting you to endure something so hard? Perhaps you have some repentance to attend to. The way that you walk through the fire sends a message to people about the goodness of your God. Have you represented Him well?
Paul and Silas did. They sang praises to the Lord in anticipation of His action, and He showed up with a demonstration of His power that Philippi would never forget. In the middle of the night the jail began to rock with a mighty earthquake. The bolts to the doors broke free and swung open, the chains broke and fell off of the prisoners, and the door to the prison was torn from its hinges, leaving the way of escape wide open.
When we brood on our injustices we stay bound and shame the name of the Lord. But a heart of praise puts our priorities back in place, and lets the whole world know about the One who sets the captives free.
Tyler Warner is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Trussville. CCT meets on Sunday mornings at 9:30am, at 5239 Old Springville Rd. Listen to Tyler’s verse-by-verse Bible teaching at CalvaryChapelTrussville.com or Sundays at 8:30am on 101.1 FM.