Photo: Courtesy Library of Congress
Midnight sun in Advent Bay, Spitzbergen, Norway
This week I have been discouraged. I was spending time with the Lord this morning and here is what He showed me:
"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened."
You may be familiar with this story from Acts. Paul had just called out a demon from the slave-girl whose masters were profiting from her fortune telling. The men, whose profits were gone as a result, seized Paul and Silas. Without a public trial, they were beaten, imprisoned, and placed in stocks. There was nothing fair or right about what happened. Paul and Silas were doing the work of the Lord. They were pursuing righteousness. Following the course set for them, they were arrested and thrown in prison after being beaten. I rather imagine, they endured it quietly, without hampering their witness. However, at the end of the chapter, in verse 37, the truth was known. They knew where their strength came from; Paul had just utilized the power of the Living God when he called out the demon from the slave girl.
When they were bound in prison, surely their share of doubts came. God, why don't you get us out of this? Why are we in here Lord? Don't you care? You are the One that told us to come to this city and now we're in prison. Do something. Those would be my questions. But we see something distinctively different in this story of Paul and Silas. We see them praise at midnight. They were keenly aware that while they were chained, they were surrounded by the Living One and True God. They were not forgotten, they were not bound because of past sins (remember Paul's past), they were not bound because of something they did wrong. In fact my friend, they were bound to glorify God. The Lord God accompanied them to this place of imprisonment. He led them there. He called them to this place for this very hour of praise. For with the stocks came praise at midnight. The Lord shook the foundations of the jail and their chains were unfastened, but none left. As a result, the jailer was saved along with his household. Glory to God.
Whatever has your feet in stocks, wherever you are imprisoned, praise him. Praise Him, PRAISE HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Praise him at midnight when the hour looks its darkest. Praise him when you don't see His hand working. Praise Him when the circumstances look like the exact opposite of what you are praying for. Praise Him because He is the One that shakes the earth...Praise Him when the hour looks darkest. You are surrounded by a heavenly host resounding the Sweet Name of Jesus. Join in the singing and my friend, at midnight we'll be singing together.