About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and 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 bonds were unfastened.
In the passages leading up to this verse, Paul and Silas had been traveling throughout Macedonia spreading the gospel message. When they reached the city of Philippi, they were accused of crimes they didn’t commit, beaten severely, and imprisoned under the most inhumane conditions. Despite these horrible and unfair circumstances, they chose to praise God.
While locked away and under heavy security, Paul and Silas would have had every opportunity to dwell on their circumstances and perhaps even blame God for the mess they were in. Instead, their choice to praise God enabled them to shift their focus away from themselves and back to God; leaving no room in their hearts for negativity or malcontent. Their act of praise invited God into their circumstance and paved the way for him to do something miraculous—to deliver an earthquake that would set them free.
But for Paul and Silas, the power of their praise didn’t stop there. In the subsequent verses of Acts 16:27–34, we learn the purpose of God’s miracle. The jailer, who was responsible for Paul and Silas and who had just witnessed their praise to God and God’s miraculous response, fell in reverence before them both and begged the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The decision by Paul and Silas to suffer like Christ for the sake of Christ, and choosing to praise God despite their circumstances, led this jailor and his entire household to hear the gospel message, accept Christ into their hearts, and be baptized later that same evening.
The message for us today is this: Even when we find ourselves in horribly trying circumstances, and there doesn’t appear to be anything good that could come from our situation, God has a plan (Romans 8:28). And if we lean on God during these times, praising him despite our pain, we not only open the door for his plan to be put into action, our faith grows stronger as well (James 1:2–4).
So no matter what, keep a positive outlook and consider your troubles as an opportunity to experience great joy. And give God praise for his promise to be with you.
Chances are you’re going through a difficult time right now. Ask God for his help and then give thanks because he will hear you and he will not leave you alone in your pain.
Today’s author: Mark Henderson—Founder of The Inspired Legacy
Mark is a creative professional with more than 20 years of experience in the fields of web design and advertising. He also serves as the chief content officer at The Inspired Legacy, an online ministry dedicated to shining a light on God’s gift of parenthood. The organization aims to inspire and equip fathers to boldly lead their families, love their kids unconditionally, and leave a legacy of grown children that carry on these same traditions. Mark resides in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with his wife, Kimberly. Together, they have three children, two girls, and one boy.