What do we do when we’re so tired, hurt, or angry that it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning? Or when we imagine getting out of bed, jumping into our car and just driving, and driving, maybe never returning? That can be a problem when we have people relying on us in our family, church or the ministry we’re leading. What should our response be when we feel overwhelmed and uncertain how we can go on? Fake it till we make it? That’s one idea! Or maybe just worship! “Oh there she goes again, being ‘super-spiritual’”. Trust me; I’m not! I wish this was always my first choice. Seriously, what if in the hardest moments of our lives, when we least feel like it, we choose to just worship?
Acts 16: 16 – 40 tells us the story of Paul and Silas, men of integrity, going about the Lord’s business. They were praying to the Lord, teaching His word, and seeing people set free of their bondage. What reward did they receive for this? They were arrested, severely beaten with rods and thrown into prison. The jailer being extra cautious that they not escape, put their feet in agonizing stocks and placed them in the inner part of the prison. Most historians believe that the very inner part of the prison had sewage flowing through it. What? They were doing all that the Lord asked them to and for that they are sitting in an awful stench, after a severe beating with their feet in stocks? “Hello Lord, are you Serious?!”
I have been in painful places in my life, but I’m not sure any can compare to what Paul and Silas were in at that moment. I also know some of those times came about through my own doing, poor choices I made. Paul and Silas were there for choosing to follow the Lord and do His will. I’ve worked with ministry leaders who have been wounded; things didn’t turn out the way they expected. They feel hurt and disappointed, sometimes angry with the Lord. They committed themselves to the Lord’s calling and they got hurt in return. Why God? I’ve worked with leaders who have thrown in the towel for much less abuse then Paul and Silas experienced.
I wonder if Paul and Silas had a moment where they wondered, “Where are you God?” Scripture doesn’t tell us what they were thinking and feeling but it does show us how they chose to respond, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them?”(vs 25) Wow! In the midst of all that, they found the strength to pray and worship the Lord. They weren’t complaining or screaming, “why God”, which likely would have been my response. No, they chose to worship! How did they find the strength to respond in that way?
I don’t believe Paul and Silas were happy in that moment, but they did have a joy within their heart which allowed them to praise God. Their joy was a result of a deep love for the Lord, and not based on their circumstances. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is dictated by our current mood and situation, but joy is what gives us the strength to stand even in horrific moments. Joy is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) that only comes from spending time in the Lord’s presence. Paul and Silas were prepared for this dark moment and many others, because they regularly communed with the Lord.
Worship is the best response we can have even in the hardest, most painful moments in our life! Its opposite of what the world would tell us to do, but that’s how God’s kingdom works. Worship will give us the strength we need to face whatever lies in front of us! And worship literally changes the atmosphere within and around us. Let’s look at this more next blog …