I don’t know about you, but if I had been unfairly locked in a dank, smelly first century Roman prison with rats at my feet, I’d have been out of there as soon as those doors flew open and the chains dropped to the ground! But Paul and Silas didn’t move. Why? Was God not saving them?
Perhaps the clue is in what Paul and Silas were doing at the time. Read the whole story in Acts 16:25-35. They weren’t grumbling about their condition. They were singing praises and the other prisoners were listening to them. Even more amazing, the other prisoners stayed as well. Can you imagine?
I believe the Holy Spirit had so filled the place with peace and hope that nobody wanted to leave. They wanted to keep on singing or listening. Could it be that the freedom of spirit they discovered in hearing praises outweighed their physical imprisonment or desire for physical freedom?
And God used that in a mighty way. The passage goes on to say that because Paul, Silas, and the others remained in the jail cells, they saved a guard from penalty of death for not doing his job. They witnessed to him, and eventually he and his whole household were converted, thus helping to jumpstart the church in Philippi.
We often do not understand why God tells us to do or not do something. We don’t know why He closes some doors and opens others. But, Paul and Silas’ story can give us encouragement that all will turn out for the best if we rely on His Holy Spirit to guide us and praise Him in all circumstances. Singing those praises out loud in the meantime couldn’t hurt.
Father in Heaven, thank you for revealing a deep truth in the story of Paul and Silas. The next time I feel like grumbling about a situation, bring it to my mind and help me to praise You anyway, even in song. Help me to be so filled with joy and peace I won’t want to leave Your presence, no matter what. Amen.
Go deeper — If you are feeling down, play some Christian praise music or hymns. Sing out loud, even if you have to close the door so nobody hears you. See if your attitude changes.
Photo Credit: Nick Tong