6/24/16 Sing Prayers Through The Pain

Paul and Silas are beaten, bleeding, and locked in ankle stocks in the dungeon of a dark, filthy prison.  They are in great pain and they have no idea whether or not they will ever see the light of day again.  They are given neither food nor water, and they have to decide between laying on the open wounds of their backs on the dirty, cold floor, or sitting with their legs elevated but nothing to support their backs.  They can hear the sounds of the other prisoners yelling at each other, hurling insults at the guard, even alternately screaming and muttering to themselves incoherently.  So what do they do?  They begin to sing prayers to God.  Their voices are clear and strong, and soon everyone within hearing range is listening with rapt attention.  The other prisoners have never heard anything like this in their prison.  It’s like a concert just for them.  By this time it is just about midnight, and suddenly there is an earthquake right under the prison.  Earthquakes are common in this area, but there hasn’t been one directly under the prison before.  The foundation is shaken, and all the prisoners who are chained to the walls find that their chains have been loosened and the doors opened just enough to let them escape.  But they don’t escape.  The songs of Paul and Silas, and the earthquake that followed, have given them pause.  Is this the work of the Mighty God that the men have been singing about?  What should they do?  If this is of God, perhaps they should wait to find out what He wants them to do first.  Besides, what if parts of the floor have opened up?  There is no light down there, and no way to see where they are going.  They might take one step and fall to their deaths.  No, better to stay put and see what happens.  The prison guard, awakened by the earthquake, comes running down the stairs to the dungeon.  He is carrying a torch, its light dancing wildly as he hurries along.  He sees that the cell doors have opened and cries out in despair, knowing that his life is over.  Any failure in his line of work brings a death sentence.  Unwilling to go through the agony of waiting and enduring the trial to come, he draws his sword to kill himself.  But Paul, seeing in the flickering light what the guard is about to do, calls out, “Stop!  We are still here!”

 

Acts 16:25-28

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