Take time to rest in the comfort of the Lord today.
Acts 16:16-34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
Wow this passage starts out joyful, not! Have you ever sat down to read the horrible things that happened to the followers of Christ? We glance over them in Sunday School, hear sermons that highlight some of the rougher sides of being a believer, but do we really steer towards those in our regular scripture reading? I will admit that often times steer clear of these passages and go for some happier scriptures as I prepare for the day. Does steering clear of these mean we are steering clear of what we are to do as believers?
In the early church and in many places in the world today, being a believer was more than going to church, being on a committee, and reading your Bible. It was and is a sacrifice. People gave and are still giving so much to continue to bring people into the community of believers that like Paul, there are physically hurt.
I hope I am never at a point in my ministry that I am beaten because of my faith. But if it ever comes to that, I hope that I would hang on and keep singing and praying just as Paul and Silas did in this passage. Today, don’t steer away from what is hard about following Christ. Instead, look at all the good that is happening in the midst of it.
God, life is hard sometimes. Sometimes, I don’t know how to face the tough times and find you in them. Show me where you are when things look scary. Give me the courage to keep walking toward you in the good or bad. Amen.
Go with God!