singing-and-praying-in-the-darkActs chapter 16 relates the story of the apostle Paul and his missionary traveling companion, Silas. Not long after they arrived, they cast a demon out of a young woman who was a fortune teller. Her owners realized they had lost their effortless income from her soothsaying and wanted revenge. Paul and Silas were dragged into the town square. The two men were dropped on the pavement at the feet of the magistrates and charged falsely. Magistrates and crowd alike were whipped into a frenzy; Paul and Silas were stripped of their outer garments and beaten before being thrown in prison.

I wonder what you or I might have done at that moment: screamed, cried, whined, or perhaps blamed God for our incarceration? Can you picture them there on that cold, dirty, rough stone floor? They were shackled, sore, and suffering from the battering they received. They had been forced into an excruciating position, bodies tormented by cramps, wounds oozing, and splinters from the roughhewn boards driven deep into their tender skin. But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25).

I wonder what you or I might have done at that moment: screamed, cried, whined, or perhaps blamed God for our incarceration?

About that time, an earthquake rolled through the jail. It was massive enough to throw open the doors of the cells, break open the stocks that bound the two brutalized prisoners, and rip their chains right out of the stone walls. The other prisoners had been listening to Paul and Silas serenade them with praise-and-worship music from hearts filled with gratitude to their heavenly Father. The terrified Philippian jailer rushed into the confines of the jail and, seeing no one, drew his sword with every intention of falling on it. He knew that had one prisoner escaped, he would have been held accountable and summarily executed.

Apparently, the words of the earlier songs had made an impression on the Philippian, for he threw himself down at the feet of Paul and Silas and cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Without hesitation, a free man though still in pain, Paul answered simply and unhesitatingly, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

—Acts 16:31

Great things for God's kingdom follow when we see His hand in our struggles and refuse to allow them to define our attitude. Your circumstances never have to dictate your response. Even on the darkest days you can keep your confidence in God and pray and even sing, believing that He is in control and will hear and answer your call to Him.