“And the multitude rose up together against them—and the magistrates rent off their clothes and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely—who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. And, at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God—and the prisoners heard them.”
This can only happen when we’re Spirit-led and Spirit-anointed.
“Songs at midnight.”
Songs loud enough for everyone to hear. No mournful, melancholy melodies here. Loud, rousing songs of praise.
But, how could Paul and Silas do this? Hadn’t they just had their clothes ripped off of them and been beaten “with many stripes”? And, hadn’t they been thrust into “the inner prison and had their feet tightly secured in stocks”? Where were their cries of injustice: “Why is this happening to me? I haven’t done anything to deserve this!!”
Or, why weren’t they moaning, wincing and writhing in pain? Hadn’t their backs been bloodied by the tormentors’ rods?
How in the world could they “pray and sing praises unto God at midnight?”
Simply because they, like Peter and the other Apostles, had determined it’s “better to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And, they “rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s Name” (Acts 5:41). Hallelujah!!
Oh, dear Pilgrim, why do we think we ought to get some special immunity or protection after surrendering our lives to Christ? Didn’t He tell us that we’ll be hated because of our allegiance to Him (Jn. 15:18-25)? And, didn’t He say “In this world you WILL have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33b)?
Most assuredly He did.
Yet, He also said “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33c). Glory!!
Paul and Silas knew that the Way of Faith is the Way of Suffering. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, there’s been a clear line of demarcation between the righteous and the wicked. . .good and evil. . .light and darkness. . .Heaven and hell.
And, when we cast our lot with the Lord, we can rest assured that the real Battle begins: The War against the world, the flesh and the devil.
That’s why it’s important to remember who the enemy really is (Eph. 6:12), wear the Full Christian Armor (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-18) and “fight the good fight, run the good race and keep the Faith” (II Tim. 4:7).
Only then can we, like Paul and Silas, “pray and sing songs of praise at midnight.” And, only then can we “count it all joy” when the pressure’s on and the easiest thing to do would be to pout, pine, grumble or complain (James 1:2). May the Holy Spirit help us today to walk in Him, rest and rely upon Him. That way we, too, can be Christ’s anointed nightingales.
August 14, 2011