The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Acts 16:22-23
Read: Acts 16:16-24
Listen: Acts 16
It starts so well. Paul’s trip to Macedonia begins with people receiving his message and forming a new church in Phillipi. He is then used by God to free a woman from demon possession. But things suddenly go horribly wrong. The owners of the woman haul them before the authorities. The crowd joins the attack. They’re stripped, severely beaten and placed in a Roman jail. They were robbed of their freedom, robbed of a trial, robbed of their dignity, health and a night’s sleep. They were doing what God wanted them to do and had nearly everything stolen from them. Their response? “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25a). It was “praise from the pit.”
As we try to comprehend something like this, we ask how this is even possible. We can’t imagine how someone who is exhausted, bloody with beaten backs and in stocks could be praying and singing in a dark prison cell. It comes down to where they placed their focus. Their focus was not on what had been stolen, but on what had been given. Watch video clip below as Pastor Jeff Manion reminds us that they were absolutely captivated by the generosity of God and his grace.
Paul and Silas had a choice. Their choice was joy—the obsession with the generosity of God that results in gratitude and praise even in seasons of deep pain and discomfort. We also have a choice. In our seasons of disappointment and pain, we can choose joy by focusing on the generosity of God.
IN YOUR CHAIR TIME TODAY
Choose praise from the pit. In your journal, write the one area in which you’re currently experiencing despair, disappointment or pain. Commit that to the Lord with a prayer of commitment like this, “Father, I (again) give this to you. I know I need your help to choose joy. Help me to focus on what you have given me, not on what has been stolen from me. Thank you.”
Download a printable PDF of the BTW week here.