Acts 16: 19-34
Paul and Silas cast out a spirit of divination from a slave girl who could tell the future and who was following them, telling everyone that they, Paul and Silas, could tell people how to get saved. Even demons can pretend to be angels of light! When the owners discovered their source of income had been “healed,” they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the center of the town where they were beaten and jailed. Yet again our men suffer for doing good. Have you ever felt that the trial you are going through might be because you didn’t learn the lesson the first time through?
At midnight our men are singing songs as others listen and focusing on God rather than their plight and misfortune. They were not tossing with worry but singing encouraging songs. I wonder if they were hopeful that an angel would appear again and lead them out as had happened in Jerusalem? Nope! God knows more than one way to skin a cat! This time God uses an earthquake that was so violent that everyone’s shackles and chains fell off. Have you ever expected God to resolve a situation the way it was resolved last time?
The jailer in charge woke, assumed the prisoners have escaped and that he would be killed for loosing them. He prepared to commit suicide. Sometimes failure seems so big that suicide seems the only way out. We despair but again we see that God has more than one way to solve a situation. During the darkness of night, often we despair and give up hope.
Paul yells out that all prisoners are accounted for and none have tried to escape. Incredulous, the jailer then asked how to he AND his whole family could be saved. The jailer realizes what is happening has spiritual significance. He does not just say “thank you,” but realizes he needs God.
Paul shares his spiritual truth, the truth about Jesus, and the jailer and his whole family believe. The next morning the magistrates themselves declare Paul and Silas free. God did not need them to run out in the night because God was working not only for the jailer and family’s salvation but also on the political level. God can multi-task.
Again we see that spiritual growth involves seeing a God who is able working in ways we do not expect, not only for just our good but also for the good of others, in the situations we are challenged by. Troubles may not mean God is trying to teach us a lesson. Spiritual growth differentiates between when we are sinful and need to repent and when God is working on a bigger picture. Praising God while is shackles is always a good place to put our hearts and minds!