What's On Your Mind?
Paul and Silas are in prison. This is the context of today’s text. But not just imprisoned – first they were beaten by Roman jailers with rods, placed in chains, and then thrown into jail. What was their state of mind?
Acts 16:25 (ESV)
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
Oh, and the last bit of context – they were innocent. What is the “normal” response? If this was you, if this was me, we might confess that singing hymns of praise to God would be on our list of to-dos. Human nature might lead us to be feeling sorry for ourselves. Or asking God, why? Keep in mind, that these men were witnessing to the gospel of Jesus. They were following God’s will, and yet in return they are beaten and imprisoned. Why, God, why? Anger, resentment, self-pity, doubt, and broken faith are “normal” responses. Yet these men were praying and singing….and the prisoners were listening to them. Even during the terrible situation, these men were witnessing about the goodness of God. How often do we spend time complaining, telling others “Our side of the story”? Needing vindication, wanting to know the injustice done, starting the conversation with, “Just so you know….” These men took the gospel way, they turned their eyes to God and thanked Him, praised Him, and in turn became an even stronger witness of God’s glory and what He can do in the hearts of His people.
Father, we confess that we fail you. We fail our Christian brothers and sisters. We complain, criticize, and feel sorry for ourselves when trouble comes. Even more so when it isn’t of our doing. Forgive us.
Forgive us for our very poor witness to others. Help us with Your strength to learn praise and gratitude in the midst of suffering, and while experiencing injustice. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than being vindictive, angry, and sullen. Thank you for your forgiveness, and even today, provide us with an opportunity to praise your name rather than complain. Amen