But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God..." - Vs 25
This story has always amazed me. Here are two guys who have been doing the work of God, get arrested, dragged into court, falsely accused, beaten and imprisoned, and they still manage to turn their ordeal into a praise and worship time! Incredible.
I mean, I have a hard time praising and worshiping if I have to park too far from the church on Sunday morning. I can end up complaining instead of praising if somebody pulls out in front of me in traffic. Yet here are two guys who, in my mind, had every right to complain about their lot in life, but instead they praised God. They had been caned and chained, but still managed to pray and praise.
It's All A Matter of Perspective
What allowed Paul and Silas to react the way they did? How were they able to respond so positively to such a negative situation? Was it just a matter of having positive outlook on life? No, I think it was perspective. They had their eyes focused on the future, not the present. They were willing to accept the sufferings of today for the glory awaiting them. Paul said it this way in Romans 8:24:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Paul knew that any suffering he would go through in the present was incomparable to what he would experience in the future.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. - 2 Corinthians 4:17
Paul had hope. Not hope for release. Even thought he could have expected it. After all, Peter had been miraculously released. He didn't put his hope in justice, even though he had been accused, beaten and imprisoned unjustly. He didn't put his hope on vindication or payback. Instead, he would lead the guard who imprisoned him to Christ.
No Paul's hope was on the future. His hope was on the reality of heaven. So what was a little pain compared with that kind of gain? Paul and Silas were able to pray and praise because they had their sights set on the unseen, the invisible, yet indisputable reality of heaven.
"While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:18
Singing a Different Tune
I sing the blues way too much. Instead, I need to learn to sing the praises of God -- regardless of the circumstances. I need to get my eyes off the temporal and start looking at the eternal. Because my God is an eternal God with an eternal plan. He knows what He is doing. I can trust Him. Even when it looks like all is out of control. I need to remind myself of what Paul knew:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Father, thank you for this reminder this morning. Help me to see my circumstances from your perspective and not mine. Help me to pray and praise instead of bicker and complain. Because you are in control. Amen