I have been studying Acts this year in my women’s Bible Study group at my church. To say that this has been a fascinating book would be an understatement. I am inspired by the apostles’ Spirit-led boldness, power, and grace as I have witnessed them spread the good news of Jesus Christ in spite of the persecution that they faced at every turn.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in prison, having been beaten with rods for their faith. Their feet were in stocks in the inner cell. Bloody, weary, cold, and with darkness surrounding them, they chose to do something quite amazing:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God…
They were doing what? Shouldn’t they be groaning in pain, or grumbling with anger, or trembling with fear, or sinking in despair, or all of these at once? But, they chose to pray and sing. The rest of the verse is as follows:
…and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25
Ahhh, they had an audience (a “captive” audience at that!) Can you imagine the soothing sound of these hymns and the words of hope that traveled peacefully through the iron bars, reaching the ears, and then the hearts, of different prisoners who were also experiencing their own personal despair?
After reading this verse, I think the question I must ask myself is this, “What will I choose to do in my darkest hour?” Will I sing as Paul and Silas did? Hmmm, I hope so. The passage unfolds:
And suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened , and everyone’s chains were unfastened. And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. Acts 16:26-27
This heaven-sent miracle had just enforced the jailer’s darkest hour upon him. He had most likely fallen asleep to the peaceful hymns of the apostles, only to be awakened by absolute chaos of his personal world. The escape of the prisoners meant his certain death, so he chose to go ahead and end his life himself. But Paul and Silas intervened. In the chaos, the desperate jailer cried out to none other than the men who were singing songs of hope in the night. The jailer asked them the greatest question that any man could ask this side of heaven, and the apostles answered it with certainty:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31
And the jailer believed, as well as his household, and they rejoiced greatly. Acts 16:34
Friends, I encourage you to sing in your darkest hour. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be good–good for you in the midst of your chaos, and good for others who are in the midst of theirs. You have an audience, and they are listenting. So choose to sing…sing of His love, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, and His grace. Mighty things will happen as a result…chains will break, rocks will move, questions will be asked, hearts will be softened, and lives will be saved.
For your sake and for the sake your audience, God Himself urges you to sing. Will you?
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night. Psalm 42:8