Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do you sing?

When the winds of trouble find you, do you worship? When darkness crowds out faith, do you sing? When you are at the end of your strength, broken and beaten to a bloody mass, do you lift up songs of praise? Do you? Tell me... what do you do, when trials come?

In Acts 16, we read about two itinerant evangelists, named Paul and Silas, who do something very unusual when faced with trouble.

One day, while preaching in Philippi, they were harassed by a prophetic slave girl who followed them everywhere, proclaiming they were from God and teaching people how to be saved (Acts 16:16-18).

I say harassed because she wouldn’t shut up. Even though what she said was true, it was not coming from God, so Paul silenced her by casting out her evil spirit (vs 18). But instead of thanking him for this, those who owned her were furious. The girl’s prophesies made them lots of money, so they falsely accused our protagonists and had them arrested (vs. 19-21).

Long story short, Paul and Silas were stripped naked, beaten severely and chained up in the darkest part of the prison (vs 22-24). Now that’s what I call a tough day in ministry!

I don’t know about you, but if I were in their shoes, I think I would have felt sorry for myself. I probably would have bemoaned my fate and cried myself to sleep. Who knows, I may have even questioned God and demanded to know why! I’m not proud of this... I’m just being honest.

What about you? When faced with unjust beatings and dark prisons, how do you respond?

The Bible tells us that Paul and Silas didn’t cry or bemoan their fate. They did something much less predictable; they worshiped and prayed.

In Acts 16:25 we read: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Do you get that? In their darkest hour, they sang and prayed for all the world to see.

They sang and God moved!

We are told that when they sang, the earth shook, the floors crumbled, the cell doors flew open and their chains were loosened (vs 26). Imagine that!

As a result of worshiping in dark times, Paul and Silas were set free -- literally. They were set free from their physical chains but most importantly they were set free from any spiritual and emotional chains. And if you read on, you’ll see how this act of joy brought many to salvation (vs 27-34).

Let’s remember this example and praise God when trials come. Let’s sing hymns when what we really want to do is cry. Let’s pray and worship instead... and watch what God will do! May all our prison cells and bruises vanish in song! Amen.