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.” (Acts 16:22-31 ESV).
The last few days we have been looking at the power of faith in confronting and overcoming our doubt. This morning’s reading has always perplexed me a bit. How could Paul and Silas keep praying and singing in the midst of such trials? As we have looked at the issue of doubting, which I do believe is a part of the normal Christian growth process, we saw that Peter, the great man of faith had doubts. We also saw that doubting, on its own, is not necessarily sin. It should be our goal to please God with our faith, but doubting by the believer is a normal reaction to certain circumstances of life.
One last point in our consideration is seen in this 16th chapter of Acts. Paul and Silas, have been arrested for preaching the gospel. They had been severely beaten. They were actually “flogged”, which meant they were stripped of their clothes and beaten repeatedly with a whip laced with broken glass and sharp rocks. They were thrown into a jail, which would probably not pass any sanitary rulings for today’s prisons. They were shackled at the feet, and as far as they knew, they were preparing to die. Normal life appeared to be over.
Yet, they prayed and sang hymns to God! That is an incredible example set for us. This teaches me is that there is hope for we who doubt. Paul and Silas were at a point in their Christian maturity that regardless of how grim the situation looks, they were going to keep on praising God; keep on praying. Are you there yet? Perhaps you ought to commit more than ever to place your faith in the God who is worthy of all our praise! God is fully in control! Annie Johnson Flint has written a wonderful bit of verse. Use it as a reminder to trust in God!
I see not, but God sees;
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and peering eyes
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees.
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