PAUL AND SILAS IN PRISON
After Paul cast out the evil spirit from an enslaved fortune-teller woman, the owners of the enslaved woman dragged Paul and Silas to the authorities at the marketplace. The owners accused them of causing a disturbance in the city by teaching customs that were illegal for the Romans to practice. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks so that they could not escape. Around midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening, a sudden massive earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundation. All the doors flew open, and every prison's chains fell off. The jailer thought all the prisoners had escaped and was about to kill himself, but Paul stopped him from killing himself, for non had escaped. As a Roman jailer, he would be punished by death if any of his prisoners escaped. (Acts 16:20-28).
Paul could easily be discouraged and question God for the suffering that he was going through. Why did God not protect him from being beaten and put into prison while he was doing God's will? However, he and Silas praised and prayed to God instead of complaining and murmuring. Their faith in God was stronger than their sufferings because they understood that they would suffer if they followed Jesus. There is no escape from suffering in following Jesus because this world is against Jesus. Here is what Jesus taught His disciples, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." (John 15:18-20).
Let us not be discouraged when we are persecuted because of our faith or experiencing suffering. Jesus promised that He would always be with us and never forsake us. The answer to our persecution and suffering is prayer and praising God. We may suffer now, but our complete redemption is coming. Let us keep persevering in our faith in our God, for He will never give up on us.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). Why did Paul not complain or doubt the goodness of God in his time of suffering? What should I do in my suffering? What does God promise me when I am suffering or being persecuted for my faith in my Lord Jesus?
Father in Heaven, thank you for your promise that you will never leave nor forsake me in my sufferings. Protect my heart from doubting, but increase my faith to trust in you. Please strengthen my faith. Please help me to pray and give me words to pray when I am too weak to pray. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.