“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25-26, NIV).
No one said that following Jesus would be easy. In fact, Jesus himself told his disciples, “ ‘…In this world you will have trouble…’ ” (John 16:33, NIV), and that each of them was to “ ‘…take up their cross daily and follow (him)’ ” (Luke 9:23, NIV). For Paul and Silas, this meant spending the night in prison. Beaten and bruised, shackled and chained, the two were punished severely for their “crime” of sharing the good news message of Jesus.
Yet, Paul and Silas did something remarkable, even while confined to a dark, damp prison cell. They worshiped God through prayer and singing, and their very act of worship provided a witness to the other prisoners. We find out later in Paul and Silas’ story that a guard, entrusted with the task of watching the prisoners came to faith in Jesus, all because of Paul and Silas’ worship and witness.
Have you ever had to wait in less-than-ideal conditions under less-than-ideal circumstances? Perhaps your “night in prison” refers to your desperate attempt to overcome an addiction. No matter how hard you try to break the “chains”, you cannot free yourself from the grip they have on you. Or, maybe your “night in prison” involves a disease or an illness, where you are simply too weak to fight off the ill-effects. Whatever you find yourself bound to or imprisoned by, you can learn a lot from this story of Paul and Silas.
The way we wait, worship, and witness changes things. At the very least, it changes us. Perhaps the chain-breaking, prison cell-shaking, earthquake was merely coincidence. Or, maybe it was a divine response to the worship and witness of Paul and Silas. In either regard, let’s use times of waiting as a means to worship. The world will see our witness and praise God for it!