by Judy Chappelear
Sentry Magazine, June 2002
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken ... " That scripture was taken from Acts 16:25-26. We recall that Paul and Silas were on their way to a place of prayer when Paul had finally "had it" with a girl who had been following them around "predicting the future." Paul cast the evil spirit out of the girl and this made her owners angry because she had been earning them so much money. Her owners had Paul and Silas brought before the authorities and they were eventually stripped and beaten and thrown into prison.
Most people don't take notice of the benefit of afflictions nor are they thankful for them: I am one of those people. Fortunately, when the affliction is over I can usually see the blessing in it even though it can sometimes be years later. Paul and Silas' affliction brought about the conversion of the jailer and his household. Wow! Scripture also tells us that the other prisoners were listening; no telling what effect prayer and singing had on them.
This brought to mind Job 35:10 "But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night ...'" Here were Paul and Silas singing when one would most expect them to be lamenting their fate. The words in Job were spoken by Elihu when he was talking about what Job was going through at that time. We know that Job's friends were questioning his righteousness: they felt that Job had obviously done wrong or God would not be punishing him. (We know from scriptures that this was not the case and that Job had lived righteously before God.)
In James 1:2-3, James says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." When we think that we have had all the trials we can face (or we are going through one trial that seems to be lasting forever), we can go to God in prayer thanking Him that He is in control. That's a tough one, isn't it? Sometimes I have gone in prayer and told God I didn't think I could make it another minute except that I knew He was in control.
Afflictions are never more frightening than during the night. During the day, we have demands and activities that help to distract our thoughts. But, at night when all is quiet, it is hard to get those thoughts under control.
Often when we are facing affliction, we think to pray immediately; but how often do we think to sing?
Psalms 42:8 says "By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life." When trials are hard and you have prayed. give it over to God realizing that truly He is in control, and sing a song. Think on these things.