But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Acts 16: 25-26
Paul and Silas had had a rough day. Not only were they in prison, they were in the Inner prison; the prison within the prison. Their hands held in chains and their feet bound in stocks, they were probably either very cold, or very hot. Their clothes, which had been torn off of them before their earlier beating, offered them minimal protection from the elements. I can imagine that they were exhausted and most likely suffering and in pain as a result of the stripes from the rods that had struck their bare skin. Dark, damp, unsavory company and unpleasant odors surrounded them. It was indeed the midnight hour.
Sometimes to “get” as much as I can from the Word of God and to learn the lessons laid out in the lives of those brothers and sisters of faith that have gone before us, I try to imagine myself in their shoes- or sandals rather. Placing myself with Paul and Silas at this particular moment in their life is a struggle for me. Firstly, I just know myself too well. I ponder the myriad of emotions that I might have struggled with had I been them. Maybe I would be overcome with discouragement, depression, despair and self pity? Anger perhaps would rise up within me at a God who I chose to serve that seemed to turn His face the other way in disregard to my present plight. Possibly I would feel abandoned, unloved, ignored and unseen in my pain and suffering. I assure you that if a rat scurried over these bound sandaled feet that there would definitely be some screeching, crying and serious whining going on.
While still bound they lifted their voices in both prayer and praise to their God. They didn’t know if they were going to be set free. They didn’t know when they were going to be set free. What they knew, is that they loved the Lord their God with all their heart, all of their soul, all of their mind, and all of their strength and at that particular moment when they had so very little to offer they were determined to offer all that they had.
Each Sunday in most churches the service begins with music. This is a time set apart to, in unity, focus upon and join voices to praise the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Congregations are overflowing with children of God who feel that the circumstances of life have their hands chained and their feet bound. I too can recall feeling that although dressed in my Sunday best I was in the midst of my own inner prison, held captive at the
midnight hour. At these times the last thing I felt like doing was raising my voice to praise and it almost felt hypocritical to do so because my heart was so not in it.
Paul and Silas were in the inner prison at the Midnight hour. When they chose to praise, not only were their prison doors opened and the chains that had them bound loosed, but even those around them were set free. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let this be one time that we learn from example.
Father, I thank you that no matter what is going on in my life you are still worthy of all of my praise.