Thursday, March 27, 2014
March 27: Faith in the darkest trial
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors flew open, and the bonds of all the prisoners came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:25-31 NET)
The accusations leveled against Paul and Silas that led to their beating and imprisonment were false—they were accused of criticizing Roman customs and laws. But like many prophets before them, and the Lord Jesus Himself, they knew that these attacks were the result of the spiritual battle raging around them. Most or all of the people who attack men and women of faith are blinded to the truth by their anger and hatred.
The word translated “listening”—when the prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas sing—means “to listen with pleasure” in the original Greek, as if listening to beautiful music. Though their backs were bleeding, they were in stocks (wooden structures that had holes for a prisoner’s hands and feet and would cause great discomfort), they had been unjustly arrested without trial, and seemed to have been forgotten by God, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Their faith was shining in that dingy, damp cell, and the other prisoners must have been shocked by the noise. They were accustomed to hearing prisoners curse, threaten, cry, and fall into hatred and depression, but they had never heard anything like what Paul and Silas were doing. What they heard must have brought hope, and even given them a hunger for the faith that these two men had. In times of the darkest trials, our faith has the potential to shine the brightest.
God’s answer was quick and obvious—an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison and freed all the prisoners, eventually leading to the jailer and his family being saved. Their trust in God, in spite of all the negatives around them, forced God to fight their battle for them. So many times we lose the blessing and victory that God is storing up for us because we give in to despair and negativity. Our physical eyes rarely see everything that’s going on, and so, unless we use the eyes of faith and trust in what we do not yet see, we are liable to be deceived. Paul and Silas were not—their vision was spot on.
How many people around us will we save when we start to have this attitude in the worst moments of life? We could save hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands if we adopted the attitude of faith and trust of these two men.