23 May 2020Acts 16:16-34
They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ (v. 31)
Psalm: Psalm 4
In contrast to Lydia who Paul met in yesterday's reading, today we meet a slave who was neither independent nor successful. She was subject to her human master who made profit from her spiritual slavery. What an unfortunate situation to be in! Yet, somehow, despite, or perhaps as a result of her captivity, she knew the truth about Paul and Silas. She told everyone of their slavery to the Most High God. I wonder which one of her masters made her do that or was God using her, despite her captivity, to speak his truth to the world?
Furious about their financial loss, her owners dragged Paul and Silas to court. Perhaps their love for money blinded their eyes. They could not see the miracle right in front of them – Paul, by the power of God, had set this captive girl free (to some degree). As a result of their alleged accusations, the authorities, fuelled by anti-Semitism and drunk on power, flogged and imprisoned God’s servants without a trial.
There, in the innermost cell of the prison, after a very hard day, Paul and Silas prayed and sang to God. They had started the day heading to prayers as free men and ended the day still in prayer while captive. So much had changed in just a day yet somehow their faith and devotion had not.
At midnight, in the middle of the darkness, they were praising God. Was it not because of God that they were captive in the first place? Yet that didn’t shake their praise but rather their praise shook the foundation of what kept them captive. Although they may not have be singing along, the other prisoners listened. This may have been the first they were hearing of this God since Christianity was new in this land. Imagine hearing people sing praises to a God, even in this hard circumstance.
The power of God, in response to their relentless praise, freed everyone – not just those who were singing. While this earthquake sounded like hope to the prisoners, to the jailer it was an assurance of death. Yet Paul and all the prisoners remained. Why would they do that? Although the Scripture doesn’t say why, the decision to stay not only prevented a suicide, but also brought salvation to an entire household. In all this, God was still glorified.
Thelma Commey, Youth President 2019-2020
- How do you keep your praise in the middle of darkness?
- Who around you is dependent on your praise to find freedom?
- Why did the prisoners decide to stay?