“ They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace… The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” Acts 16:19,22-34
Could it be any worse? Falsely accused, dragged, beaten, restrained? But Paul and Silas, knowing their God had called them to be where they were, fixed their expectancy on their heavenly Master. Instead of pity, their prison opened to them possibilities, a new opportunity to praise and see what God would do. Shackled, unable to sleep, and bloody, sing and pray they did they did to the God with whom all things were possible. And what a difference it made! (Mark 10:27; Acts 16:9-20)
Their fellow prisoners not only heard but listened, inevitably encouraged by their bold prayers and joyful song. The Almighty responded by breaking open their chains and doors, freeing them to boldly proclaim His salvation with a perfect visual aid. The jailer, panicked for his life under the rule of law, was led to eternal life with his whole family, free forever in the Savior’s grace.
How do I see my prison? Do I chafe at restrictions, discomfort, inconvenience, and pain, or take action to minister to another therein? Is my tendency to whine, blame and complain, or to sing to the One who works for the good of those He loves, to pray that He order all things for His glory? What effect might my hopeful outlook, my singing, my smile have on others who are imprisoned, bitter, helpless, despairing? (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28)
Father, help me see with Your eyes, and do what I can to bring Your possibilities to fruition. Keep me singing and praying for the good of others, and for Your glory.