One of my favorite New Testament stories is in Acts 16. Paul and Silas have been speaking of the reality of God’s love, and of Jesus’ resurrection. On this particular occasion they free a woman who is dealing with a lot of inner spiritual darkness. She is also owned by men who were using her for profit; she was a slave. It’s a very dark story (and tragically it’s something that still happens to this day) before the light of Jesus frees her! The owners of this woman lose their minds because they’ve lost their ability to profit from this woman.
“When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the marketplace to face the authorities.” Acts 16:19 Imagine being Paul and Silas in this story. They are leading people to encounters with Jesus’ reality and love, only to be treated like criminals -- and the worst kind of criminals. The crowd joined in the attack against them and the magistrates ordered that they be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison.” Acts 16:22. I remember years ago, the first couple times I read this story I wanted to stop. In fact, early in my faith I may have skipped ahead to find encouraging stories of God’s love and joy. But, like all God’s stories in Scripture, you don’t want to miss the incredible end!
There are a lot of spiritual forces at work here in Jesus’ love flooding this city, and in the spiritual push back that’s happening. So much so that Paul and Silas are being considered special prisoners, and the jailer is under strict instructions to keep his eye on them. “He put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
Are you kidding me, they’re singing to God?!?
“Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once, all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose.” Tomorrow our journey will lead us to unpack what this story can teach us about God working good in our lives.