12/17/Th – Pray and Praise through the Pain

2 Kings 8:1-19; Acts 16:25-40; Psalms 143:7-12; Proverbs 30:7-9

NT: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house. He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized. He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household.” (‭‭Acts‬ ‭16:25-34‬ ‭CSB)

One of the most impactful testimonies to God’s faithfulness is the way His faithful followers act when undergoing pain or tribulation. Earlier that day, Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl who was making money for her owners through fortune-telling. That led to a riot in the town marketplace, which then led to Paul and Silas being stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison. Instead of moaning and bellyaching over their pain or angrily protesting over their infringed-upon rights, they began to pray and sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. As their backs throbbed incessantly from their lashing, they continued on in prayer and praise late into the night. The prisoners (and the jail keeper) couldn’t help but watch and listen. Then suddenly a miracle happened! A violent earthquake shook the prison until the prison doors fell off and the chains that bound them to the wall came loose. Thinking that the prisoners were long gone, the jailer decided to kill himself instead of facing the ramifications of the escape… but Paul and Silas made sure everyone stayed put. Watching how Paul and Silas behaved… then seeing the demonstration of God’s power… then seeing Paul and Silas resist the temptation to escape… well, that was all the jailer needed to see. He was convinced that the God of Paul and Silas was real, and begged to know how he and his family could be saved. The way that we as followers of Jesus act during painful and challenging times speaks volumes to those who are watching… and everyone is watching. The world is watching us right now as we, along with the rest of the world, endure a global pandemic that is causing pain and challenges to everyone. Are we different? Do we grumble and complain? Do we shake our fists in anger and frustration? Do we demand our rights? Or do we first pray and praise the Lord and lay our lives in His hands, trusting Him to protect us, provide for us, give us peace, and defend us? Are we giving our Lord the opportunity to show Himself faithful and powerful in our lives? What is more important… insuring that our rights aren’t breached, or insuring that the unbelieving world has an opportunity to see God in us and through us unto their salvation? Seek first the Kingdom, Jesus said, and all the things that you need will be given to you. Paul and Silas were kingdom minded men who were willing to endure suffering if it meant a community of people would be saved and grow as disciples of their Lord… so they prayed and praised through the pain, and God moved mightily on their behalf.

Psalms: “Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Don’t hide your face from me, or I will be like those going down to the Pit. Let me experience your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in you. Reveal to me the way I should go because I appeal to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I come to you for protection. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, Lord, let me live. In your righteousness deliver me from trouble, and in your faithful love destroy my enemies. Wipe out all those who attack me, for I am your servant.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭143:7-12‬ ‭CSB)

While going through a challenging time, King David didn’t want to be like everyone else. He wanted to experience the mercy and faithful love of the Lord God. He knew that the way out of his troubles was by looking up and trusting in the Lord, not looking down at his problems. If He kept His eyes on the Lord instead of on the challenges that surrounded him, God would show him what to do… God would lead him out of the troubles he faced… God would protect him from the things that threatened him. David knew that the way he acted and the choices he made directly reflected on God’s character… so he said, “Lord, for Your name’s sake… for Your reputation, I trust in You to let me live.” David gave God every opportunity to prove Himself; and prove himself, time and time again, God did.

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