Purpose In The Pit


 Paul's pit was  a prison.  And the prison system in Rome during this time was actually the sewer system.   There was a manhole of sorts that you were lowered through and this was not a daily occurrence.  If you went down to work as a guard or visit as a family member, you were prepared to be there for a while, because who knew when the manhole would open again. 

As far as being in the prison itself, it was a nasty, tortuous and filthy place.  Sewage ran through and some estimates say  it could have been as deep as waste high.  Nothing hopeful about that at all.

And yet, Paul had hope.    Even though Paul and Silas were severely beaten and thrown in this hideous dungeon, they continued to pray and sing praises to God.    And what's more, the other prisoners were listening to the praises.  

That's when it happened.  The earthquake.  It rocked the earth so hard that all the prison doors opened and everyone, including the other prisoners, were free to go.  

But they didn't. 

We sort of expected Paul and Silas to stick around.  They were missionaries spreading the good news and they may have had an inkling that God was about to do something amazing.  But what about the other prisoners?  The murderers and thieves and swindlers.  They all stayed.  I can't help but think it was the influence of Paul's singing.   God was in the place.  Paul and Silas had made a difference simply by praising God and it affected everyone.   The story ends with the jailer and his family  getting baptized, and although it doesn't say it, I think many prisoners were converted that day as well. 

It's important to note here that Paul was praising God in the midst of the sewage, not in the aftermath of the earthquake.  The earthquake was caused by the praises, not vice versa.

Compare this  to Psalms 137.  The Israelites weren't in prison, but they were marching towards captivity.  They were being taken to Babylon and they were being mocked by their captors, who demanded that they sing for them.   The couldn't bring themselves to sing.  So they gave up their lyres and their harps.  They lost hope.  

Paul chose differently.  He sang anyway.  Pagan land or prison,  he kept singing because God is good.  

If you've been in a hopeless pit, maybe it's time to take your harp out of the poplar trees and being to sing again.  We can praise God while we wait.  The earth may not be shaking yet, but  sing anyway.  Your praises can make the earth start rumbling.