Verse: Acts 16:22-25
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. 25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
I’m writing this devotion for the Cultivate App this morning, and I thought I’d share it here as well. When you read those verses, what stuck out to you?
Paul and Silas have been beaten and thrown in prison, and they are praying and singing to God. This is so challenging to me. I have to say, because I’ve read this verse repeatedly throughout my life, I hope that’s what I would do. But, honestly, it isn’t how I normally react when other difficulties beset me. How about you?
Now, your first response might be, “oh great, another pastor telling us to ignore our pain and just close our eyes to the reality of life and sing through the pain.” Not really. I don’t think Paul and Silas were living in denial here. I don’t think they had some sort of false triumphalist version of Christianity. They were well aware of their bleeding backs, their shackled ankles, and their dirty confines. The power of the story isn’t that they ignored their bad circumstances. It’s that they worshipping in spite of them.
In their situation I may have said or thought things like, “Why are you letting this happen to me God?” “I’ve been serving you, and this is what I get?” “Tons of other people do way worse things than me, and this doesn’t happen to them!” “I thought you would protect me God, why have you let this happen?” “This isn’t fair God, I’m a good person!”
Any of those sound painfully familiar?
Listen. I’m not minimizing our pain. I’m not saying, “slap a bandaid on it, smile, and pretend everything’s ok.”
I’m saying, while we are very aware of our pain and disappointment, we can still choose to look to Jesus through the cloud of suffering of confusion, and find hope in his love. One aspect of worship is “ordering our affections” correctly. It is putting Jesus first. It is saying, Jesus I trust you in my pain. I trust you with my pain. I lean on you for help with my pain. And I will walk with you through my pain.
Are you feeling beaten, bound, and broken right now in some area of your life? What if you found a way to worship in that pain? To reach through the disappointment and grab his hand? To hold on tight and trust that he’s on your side? And to sing, even with tears in your eyes, of gratitude for his love for you.
I reach out to you God, through my pain and confusion. Would you bring your healing and comfort to me this morning? I need to know you are there, and you are holding me and watching over me.
Author: Christian Dunn