I love the passage in Acts 16:22-40 which tells the story of Paul and Silas in prison. They were thrown into jail falsely and around midnight while they were singing praises to God, there was a big earthquake that opened up the jail and caused their chains to come off. The jailer came out ready to kill himself because he was afraid the prisoners had escaped. Paul called out to him not to do so because they were all present. That was so amazing that the jailer converted and he and his whole household were baptized.
The next day when Paul and Silas were released, they asked why they were being released in secret when they had been publicly humiliated and arrested even though they were Roman citizens. The authorities apologized to them and let them go.
I learnt a lot from this passage that I’d like to share.
1. When bad and unjust things happen to me how do I react? Do I see God’s hand in everything and choose to praise him or do I complain and gripe? Choose to praise always! It even breaks open prison doors.
2. And do I think of how my actions affect others? Imagine if Paul and Silas had taken the opening of the prison doors as an opportunity to escape. The poor jailer would have lost his job and been in disgrace. And if he had killed himself, his family would have lost their breadwinner. Instead by staying, they provided a witness that blew the jailer’s mind so much that he converted together with his family. How do I treat the witnessing opportunities I encounter?
3. Third lesson was about how Paul and Silas even bore the imprisonment. They only pointed out that they were Roman citizens after they had been released. Perhaps, you and I would have “fought” for our rights and taken the people to court. They let the people off with an apology….perhaps because they felt their work of evangelization was more important and urgent. They also left the people wondering…. who are these Romans who chose not to fight for their rights. Perhaps that wonder turned into a seed of the word of God that bore fruit.
My prayer is that we will choose to praise at all times, see every encounter as an opportunity to evangelize and be willing to bear wrong for the sake of Christ. Impossible with man but possible with God!
Angela Azumah Alu