Two men spouting rhetoric against Roman laws, were apprehended today by an outraged citizen. A large crowd followed as the citizen pushed the two men forward towards the marketplace. Reaching the authorities, he angrily demanded the two men be charged with disturbing the peace and inciting a riot. The unruly crowd fought their way into the proceedings screaming hatred and demanding justice. As the noise reached a fever pitch, the magistrate shouted his ruling ordering the two men to be beaten, jailed and shackled.
Does this story sound familiar? It is a fictionalized version of an incident that occurred centuries ago to Paul and Silas as recorded in the Bible, Acts 16:16-24. Let’s look a little further to get the rest of the story and imagine what an interview with Paul and Silas would have revealed.
MACEDONIA NEWS, TUESDAY
INTERVIEW WITH PAUL AND SILAS BY REPORTER THEOPOLIS
REPORTER: Paul and Silas, you were both arrested here today in the marketplace. Tell me Paul, why did you come to Macedonia?
PAUL: Well, Theopolis, Silas & I came to Macedonia, because God told us to come.
REPORTER: Wow! I didn’t see that one coming. So, you’re telling me God sent you here to be arrested, beaten and imprisoned?
PAUL: No, of course not. God loves us. These things just happen.
REPORTER: Sure, but don’t you wonder why your God would allow you to be beaten and jailed if He loves you?
PAUL: Honestly Theopolis, Silas and I know God loves us, but we have wondered why He allowed this. We also wonder what will happen next.
SILAS: Yeah, it’s kind of scary sitting in this cell just wondering about our future. You know, we weren’t doing anything wrong when that man grabbed us and brought us to the magistrate. Maybe somebody needs to put him in jail!
PAUL: I’m sorry Theopolis, but I think it would be best to end the interview now. Silas and I have a lot of talking and praying to do.
The thoughts expressed in this interview are not beyond the imagination when you look at the timing. Paul and Silas were most likely arrested during the day, yet we have no clue what they were thinking until midnight. During the hours between their arrest and midnight, could they have been struggling with negative thoughts? Let’s check out what happens next, (Acts 16:25-34).
A great earthquake struck last night at 12:15 p.m. Scientists report that oddly it struck only the area where the city jail sits. They have no explanation for this isolated incident. Soldiers outside the jail reported hearing loud singing just before they felt the tremors that shook the building. The only damages were broken shackles and the cell doors inside the jail. All prisoners are present and accounted for.
MACEDONIA NEWS, WEDNESDAY
INTERVIEW WITH PAUL AND SILAS BY REPORTER THEOPOLIS
REPORTER: So, Paul and Silas, here I am once again. Paul, you were both here for the earthquake. What do you think caused it?
PAUL: Our God caused it!
REPORTER: What do you mean?
PAUL: As you know, Silas and I were feeling pretty down when we spoke yesterday. But then we got to praying to our God. We know that He loves us enough and is powerful enough to rescue us. Well, after wallowing in self-pity for a while, we made a decision. We decided to give our situation to God and have faith that He would take care of us.
REPORTER: So, you think your God rescued you by causing an earthquake?
SILAS: Absolutely! It was at midnight and we were praying and singing hymns to God when all of a sudden everything started shaking! The next thing we knew, our chains just fell off and the cell doors flew open!
REPORTER: Wow! You guys were free! Tell me, what kept you here. Why didn’t you run?
PAUL: If we had run Theopolis, the jailer would have killed himself. Because we stayed, the jailer and his entire family came to believe in our God. Furthermore, the magistrates have freed us. You see Theopolis, when you have faith in our God, He will do even the impossible!
We will never know whether Paul and Silas actually struggled with negative thoughts like our fictionalized story. But we do know that whenever any of us face difficult situations, we have a choice to make. The choice to ignore our natural inclination to wallow in self-pity and negative thoughts or to choose to have faith and praise God. For Paul and Silas, God rewarded their choice with freedom, a miracle and the joy of leading others into God’s kingdom.
But what about us?
We may not experience the same difficulties as Paul and Silas, but we all go through difficult situations. Life can be a struggle. At some time or another we all experience pain, loss and broken hearts. There may be times that our situations are so overwhelming that we fall into despair, depression and hopelessness.
But let me assure you that like Paul and Silas, we can have victory through God.
Victory does not always come immediately or in the way we envision it. But through God it does come.
Before victory comes to our situations,
it often comes first to our hearts giving us peace and growing our faith.
HOW DO WE HAVE THAT VICTORY?
1. REACH OUT TO GOD.
God stands beside us waiting for us to reach out to Him. When we do, He will stay with us and guide us through our difficulties.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
2. PRAISE GOD.
Praising God when we are overwhelmed, depressed and grieving is not easy. There may not be any part of us that feels like praising, but when we do it in obedience to God, things change. It’s like opening the door and inviting God to be a part of our situation. For Paul and Silas, praising God literally opened the door of their jail cells and changed their situation.
Praising God not only pleases God, but it seems to release God’s Spirit within us. When we praise God, we are filled with more joy, peace and love.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3 (KJV)
3. REFOCUS OUR THOUGHTS FROM THE PROBLEM ONTO GOD.
Our reaction to situations begins with our thoughts. Focusing our thoughts on our problems and all the possible negative results, only increases our fears and makes the problems seem insurmountable. When we turn our thoughts from the negative to the positive and God, we can have joy and victory. Don’t you feel better when you think about positive things?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
We do not deny the reality of our situation but we do focus on the victory that can come through God.
For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37
4. BE JOYFUL.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James 1:2-3
Joy? What! You have got to be kidding me!
Nope! I’m not kidding! But the scripture is not saying to be glad we are having hard times. It is saying to be joyful that God can use those hard times to grow our patience and our faith as we wait to see His victory.
5. REACH OUT TO OTHERS.
Share your feelings with someone you trust. Allow them to talk with you, pray with you and encourage you. You are not the only person to ever struggle. We are all in this journey of life together, allow someone else to help you along. At some point, you may be able to do the same for someone else.
A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
6. THANK GOD AND REMEMBER THAT GOD WORKS ALL THINGS TO GOOD.
This is where faith really enters in. The scripture instructs us to be thankful for ALL THINGS!
Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
That’s a tall order! What about if we have lost our job, have health problems, encounter violence or abuse? How can we be thankful for that? I think we can be thankful that God can be victorious and use it for good just like He did for Paul and Silas.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
Notice once again, that the scripture says ALL things, not just good things. ALL things will work to good when we love Him.
How will God work your situation to good?
Perhaps God will give you a better situation. Perhaps God will use you and your experience to help someone else struggling. Perhaps God will grow your faith and increase your peace. Perhaps you will see how to avoid the pitfalls if similar situations occur again. Only God knows how He will work it for good. We just have faith that He can.
So, when things aren’t going so hot, we have a choice to make –
to walk in faith towards God thanking and praising Him,
to wallow in misery and let the chips fall where they may.
If we choose to close the door on the negative, then we are opening the door for God to do great things.
After all, God can use it all to good when we turn to Him.
Are you facing a difficult situation? In faith can you turn it over to God and trust Him to use it for good?
Heavenly Father, help me to thank and praise you for loving me just as I am. Use my situation to grow my faith, and give me more peace and joy. As I write Romans 8:28, and say it aloud, increase my faith that no matter what I see, I remember that you can do the impossible and be victorious even using it for good.
SEE GOD’S VICTORY AND HOW HE USES ALL THINGS FOR GOOD
BY CHOOSING TO WALK IN FAITH
Please let me know how you like my blog.
You can connect with me on my Facebook page or by email through this website.
Thanks so much!
Jail photo by Nicole Lu, pixabay
Chains photo by Zulmaury Saavedra, unsplash
Victory photo by Japheth Mast, unsplash
Cat photo by Sbringser, pixabay
Door photo by Pedro Ramos, unsplash