|Some would teach that this story is about how to get released from our suffering. They would say that singing praises in the midst of hardship will bring the earthquake that releases our chains. And so praising God in troubled times becomes a formula for deliverance.
I respectfully, but adamantly disagree. I’ve seen too many people who prayed and praised for an earthquake that didn’t come.
Paul and Silas had no way of knowing what was going to happen to them. They had no blueprint for Christianity. What they had were surrendered lives. We know that Paul’s attitude was “for me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) So what do you do when that is your mindset, and you find yourself in chains? You do what comes naturally. You pray. And you praise God.
We know from scripture that our trials, our suffering, changes us, not God. He remains worthy to be praised.
Paul and Silas had the same choices in their suffering that we have in ours. Fear, weeping, depression, hopelessness, strategizing a way out. All choices for how to respond in a trial. The other prisoners that were listening could have heard something much different than they did. Paul and Silas made a choice. Prayer is a choice. Praise is a choice.
There is an impact made on those around us when we choose to praise God in our suffering.
We all go through trials, as promised by God. Rather than see this passage as a ‘how-to’ manual for getting out of our trials, I see it as a testimony of glorifying God through them.
I also see it as an admonition to the Church. It is not our chains (suffering) that are different from those outside of the Church. It is our response to them. People are watching. People are listening.
Can they hear that God is worthy of praise even in our suffering?
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