July 27 I Friday
“…then immediately he and all his household were baptised. The jailer…was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
After Paul cast the demon from the slave girl and she could no longer tell fortunes, her owners were so enraged with Paul and Silas they started a riot against them. They were arrested, stripped, severely flogged, and thrown into the bellows of a dungeon-like prison, bound in chains and feet fastened in stocks.
One would expect they would be vehemently protesting that imprisonment and pain were not part of the plan. But Acts 16:25 tells us, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” What kind of mind can rejoice in the face of such heathen justice and rise to celebrate the glory of God? Here were
two men who said, “No matter what happens, I am going to trust one thing to be true: that the Sovereign God is directing my life and put me in the right place for His purpose.”
As Paul and Silas were worshipping, there was a sudden violent earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, flung open the doors and loosened everyone’s chains. The jailer awoke and, assuming he would be arrested or even worse for letting prisoners escape on his watch, he drew his sword about to kill himself. But Paul, quick as a flash, shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:28) The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).
This is an extreme situation, but how often do we miss God-given opportunities because we focus on what seems to be going wrong? We can become so absorbed with fulfilling God’s agenda our way that we do not anticipate, much less see, a bigger picture God has in store. God does not promise a smooth, straightforward fulfillment of everything He calls us to. Though we may be travelling a rough, perilous road, God is in control. What we see as an unwanted and sometimes painful detour may be part of God’s plan to put us in the right place for a greater purpose.
When Paul and Silas were cast into that prison, so was Jesus. In chains for Christ, they praised Him, and as a result, not only the jailer and his whole household were saved and baptized, but we can be sure other prisoners who were listening to the hymns were also saved, for none had escaped. God is perfectly capable of bringing triumph into trouble, and nothing can hold a candle to the divine revelation of the sufficiency of Christ in us.
Prayer: Lord God, I surrender my expectations and plans to You. Grant me the courage of Paul and Silas, praising and serving You regardless of how troubling my circumstances. Thank You, Father.