16 Jul Light in the darkness
Have you ever done something you believed God told you to do and ended up in a dark place? Have you ever done something good but received bad in return? That is exactly what happened to Paul and Silas in Acts 16:16-34 (take two minutes and quickly read the story – it will bless you). They didn’t break any law. They simply ministered deliverance to a slave girl. And for that, they were humiliated, beaten and thrown into super-max.
It is worth noticing their reaction to this maltreatment. We don’t see them having a deep discussion about how and when God was going to deliver them. We don’t even see them speculating about how He could have allowed this to happen. No, they had a praise and worship evening!
Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV)
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
I want to tell you something about praise and worship – God is the audience, not people! We praise Him to magnify Him for who He is and express our appreciation and adoration of Him. But even though God is the audience and recipient of our praise, the people around us are also listening to us. Just like the prisoners in this story.
What a beautiful picture. Those who are in bondage around us in the same darkness we are in, are listening to what comes out of our mouths. The result of Paul and Silas’ praise sudden breakthrough.
It was midnight – the start of a new day. They probably didn’t even know. Yet, in our darkest times, we might feel like no light is coming, but God has already started something new! I don’t claim to understand all the theological nuances of this story, but this I know: the devil is bad, God is good and many times things aren’t what they seem!
This story not only ended in Paul and Silas being liberated from prison, but a whole family putting their faith in Jesus. When we are in the darkest of times feeling bound and beaten up, God is up to something. We tend to ask: why is God allowing this? What did I do to bring this over myself? These are the wrong questions. In this story, the right question to ask is: How far will God go to save a prison guard and his family?
Stand in faith, my friend. In the midst of the darkest night, God has already started to move things towards daybreak! God cares about all people and wants to work through your life to bring light to the darkness.