Prison cannot be a nice place. I’ve never heard anyone say, “my goal is to go to prison.” We understand it to be difficult and scary. It must be absolutely devastating when an innocent is falsely accused and put in prison. Why am I talking about prison? It’s because of Paul and Silas. Their story of being in prison is recorded in the New Testament in Acts 16:16-34.
Paul and his co-worker, Silas, had done nothing wrong, but they made some businessmen angry; therefore, were falsely accused and thrown in prison. Knowing of their unfair treatment causes us to feel sympathy for them, but their reaction to their predicament causes astonishment. They were singing! Yes, singing praises to God, worshiping Him. This incident reminds me of another verse found in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Has that verse ever been confusing to you? It has to me.
For years I wondered how in the world someone suffering such injustice could end up singing and being happy. I know they were rejoicing — but how? I’ve often imagined that while I would indeed pray, my focus might be on getting a good lawyer or mulling over the unfairness. Perhaps any one of us might slip into some level of depression — but sing?
It’s the, “in everything give thanks,” that confused me for many years, but I realize now, that was because I was focusing on the wrong thing. I made the mistake for the longest time of believing that we were to try and be happy for every bad thing that happens to us. The truth goes far deeper.
Paul and Silas weren’t thanking God that they were falsely thrown in prison; they were thanking God that He was in there with them! His presence and sense of love so strong, they had to sing His praises. It’s no different for you and me today. We can find ourselves in a prison on despondency when we are unfairly treated, or our circumstances are unfavorable. Perhaps a relationship has broken apart or a dear loved one has passed away leaving one in a prison of grief.
The important thing to remember is, no matter how deep the grief or shattering the situation, we are never alone in our prison, and with God, He can open the doors, as He did with Paul and Silas, and set us free in our spirits. Never forget that God is always bigger than any problem. He was bigger than the lions when Daniel was thrown in the pit. He was ruling over the vast water when He parted the Red Sea for His people to walk on dry land to the other side.
When we choose to praise Him that He is with us in all of circumstances, pleasant or terrible, the beauty of His presence fills us with hope and peace. We are reminded that nothing is impossible with Him and He holds the whole world in His hands. When we are down and in despair, remember who is right there with you in the middle of the darkness of your present world, bringing His light of comfort and all His own strength for you to grab hold.