I mentioned Paul and Silas in a previous post – they were the ones who’d been beaten and chained in a prison dungeon just because they set a young girl free from a tormenting demon. And instead of reacting with fear and depression (not that they weren’t tempted to) they chose to sing praises to God. Their singing was like a punch in the face for the devil who wanted to defile them with self-pity or anger. Their choice to praise God instead was so radical that God’s power shook the foundations of that prison and caused all the doors to swing open and all chains to fall off the prisoners. Even the head jailor and his whole family were saved that day.
It’s a beautiful story, but who among us would choose joyful singing with a bleeding back, the threat of more torture and probable death? Maybe you’d like to imagine that you’d be as courageous in your faith as Paul and Silas. So what if we scale this back to ordinary problems? Who among us regularly chooses to sing joyful songs of praise when they’re treated badly on their job? How about when we get stuck in traffic, or lose a cellphone, or just feel like no one understands us? How quick do complaints and indignation rise up inside of us when we don’t get our way? How often do we even blame God for our inconveniences?
It’s all in our perspective. Paul and Silas and so many other heroes of faith knew how deeply they were loved, and how costly the price of their salvation was. Paul said, “If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?” His line of reasoning was that no matter what problem was thrown against them, they were already conquerors, so why bother with petty complaining? God just came in the flesh and died and rose again and then gave them His authority to crush Satan – they could never repay Him for such a priceless gift! If God had already done that, of course He was going to grant them everything!
Their perspective came from spiritual reasoning, and when we do that, absolute trust in God becomes a no-brainer. It’s like being sure that you’ll have enough oxygen to breathe ten minutes from now – who even worries about that?
The fact that we struggle so much to have that certainty shows how far we all are from the kind of solid trust that shakes open prison doors. But that’s the faith we need to strive for, that we can all have. In Romans 8 Paul lists death, life, famine, sword, anguish, persecution, nakedness – all those things we’d rather not think about – as ineffective in stopping the overwhelming love of our God. Absolutely nothing can stop God from loving and providing for you. Nothing. That means we can walk straight into an attack of the devil, and be fearless (not that he won’t tempt us with fear) and we can choose to sing joyful songs of praise as an act of defiance to the devil, and as an act of total love and trust in our unstoppable God. He’s already given us everything, its time to give Him our total trust.
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NASB)