Freedom in Captivity
Preface: Paul continues to praise the Thessalonians for the good things he sees in them and to encourage them amid the persecution they are facing.
The prisoners walked slowly behind the guard. As they passed through the dark corridor, they were welcomed by jeering inmates. One of the newcomers strolled as if in a park, a peaceful look on his weathered face. His serene bearing caught everyone’s notice. The younger man limped behind him, trying to keep up with the guard, who barked instructions with every step. They passed the cells and waited as the guard unlocked a heavy door. It screeched as it opened. Inside, they were fastened to the stocks. They sat silently there, reliving the events of the day: the public beating, the false charges, and now, the dank prison cell.
Paul and Silas surveyed their situation. Cold, injured, wet, and hungry, they could not move, yet they were thankful. Maybe they remembered something Jesus said not too long before: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11, 12, NIV). This marvelous promise must have warmed their hearts. Their hearts so overflowed with joy that, forgetting their pain and plight, they burst into song.
The guard and inmates couldn’t believe their ears. Sweet melodies of praise to God filled the air, instead of the usual cruel sounds of the prison. Everyone wanted to know: “How can these men sing in such a desperate situation?” Paul and Silas had something to sing about. They were assured of the presence of the Most High, and to Him they raised their voices in praise and thanksgiving.
Can we praise God in the midst of hard times? The Bible says we can. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we find a wonderful promise. God sifts through the trials and temptations and allows us to face only those we can handle. But He takes it a step farther. He will also equip us with the tools we need to find our way out of those trials. Isn’t that enough reason to praise and glorify the Lord?
Yet there is still more. That promise and hundreds of others found in His Word are solid as a rock. Take them to the bank and cash them in, because they are as good as gold. God does not fail us. He has given everything to grant us eternal happiness. He spread Himself between heaven and earth and died with His hands and feet nailed to a tree. I have to praise a God who would love me that much. Don’t you want to praise Him too?