Justin Tucker, LHBC Worship Pastor
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say,
It is well
It is well with my soul
Paul and Silas were no strangers to tragedy. They were constantly finding themselves in tough situations. Sometimes they were chased out of towns, other times they were beaten and imprisoned but the thing that amazes me most about them is that no matter what, they never stopped praising the Lord.
We find them in one of those situations in Acts 16. Paul has cast a spirit out of a slave girl that had been telling fortunes for her owners, When that spirit left her she could no longer turn a profit for them so they had Paul and SIlas arrested. When they were brought before the magistrates, the rest of the crowd started to attack them also. The magistrates tore off Paul and Silas’ clothing and had them ordered to be beaten with rods and thrown into prison. Now this wasn’t like a “go get a switch” situation that we’ve grown up with. These Roman officers were trained in hitting someone in the same spot over and over with a birch stick until a welt was formed and would then burst. That sort of trauma to the body would never heal correctly. Believe it or not, Paul survived beatings like this 3 different times (2 Corinthians 11:25). After receiving this beating Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison cell and had their feet put in shackles.
Naked, beaten, bloodied, and shackled…they began to talk. Can you hear it? “Paul…hey, Paul…how are you? You okay?” Paul responds, “Silas, I’ve had better days. I think my ribs are broken and I can’t feel my feet. These shackles are so tight.” Silas says back, “I know what you mean, brother. I think my spine is exposed. I’m freezing too, this floor is so cold.” I can hear Paul, “Silas, let’s pray. We’re not getting out of this by ourselves. Let’s sing, at least we still have our lives. God is good. Remember, He promised He would never leave us or forsake us.” I know the song wasn’t written yet but can’t you just hear them singing it…”whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.” Those two broken and beaten men lifted their voices to the heavens and worshiped and all of a sudden an earthquake took place, the prison door flew open, and the shackles fell off. The jailer runs back and is completely panicked that the prisoners have escaped only to find everyone still there. Paul and Silas witness to him and he ends up meeting Jesus. Physical prisoners and spiritual prisoners are set free!!
Worshiping at midnight is something that we get to do. When we do this it gets the attention of Heaven. When we are in our midnight moments, we have the opportunity to choose to praise God and give Him glory or we choose to focus on our problems. Praising in our midnight also gets the attention of those around us. When we praise God in our darkest moments, people notice it. Tim Keller says it this way,” Glorious worship is exuberant, never half-hearted. It is attractive, not off-putting. It is awesome, never sentimental. It is brilliant, not careless… There is nothing more evangelistic, nothing that will win the world more than glorious worship.” I’ve also heard it said this way, “The best way to invoke hunger in people is to feast in front of them.” What would our homes, churches, schools, places of employment look like if we were consistently seen feasting on God’s Word or His praise? Lastly, praising at midnight sets people free. We see Paul and Silas and the other prisoners physically set free in the text but we also see the jailer set free from the bondage of sin and shame. Sometimes the freedom that comes through worship isn’t always for us…sometimes it’s so someone else can be set free.
Let me encourage you this week to be a midnight worshiper. When life is hard and the enemy is on your back, choose praise. Heaven will notice, the world will notice, and freedom will take place. Remember the presence of evil cannot reside where the praises of God are happening. Live a life full of praise.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord, help me to turn my pain and problems into your praises. Free me from the attacks of the enemy. Help me to remember that You are near, that You are present in all of my struggles. Remind me that others are watching to see how I will respond to the struggles. Remind me that my response matters. Thank you for Jesus as the blood He shed so that I could receive freedom. In Jesus’ name, amen.