The inner cell of the jail was dark, dank and smelled of mold and mildew. A very thin sliver of light fought to find its way into the inner chamber. A rat scurried and stopped standing on its hind legs long enough to smell two men who were chained to the concrete floor. It was midnight and the men, who had been beaten on their backs with canes, were carefully leaning against the damp cold rock walls singing hymns to God.
While Paula and Silas ignored the searing pain that radiated over their entire bodies they both began praising, praying and singing praise to God. While their situation seemed hopeless to men, with God all things are possible and deliverance was actually very near, even knocking at their cell door.
Suddenly, there was a great earthquake that shook the ground even to the foundations of the prison. As the violent shaking subsided all the doors became unhinged and opened on their own. Every chain that fettered a prisoner to the floor became loose. They were free indeed as the keeper of the prison, who awoke from sleep and realized what had happened. Thinking that the prisoners escaped, the jailer drew his sword and was preparing to dispatch himself.
Paul knowing what the keeper was thinking called out to him in a loud voice “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here”.
The keeper of the prison breathed a sigh of relief and called out for an oil lamp. The man ran into where Paul and Silas were now standing and fell down on his knees pleading with them “What must I do to be saved?”
Of course the law and the sentence at this Roman colony for allowing one prisoner to escape was clear to the jailer and God preparing his heart had led him into the inner prison to beg for mercy from these two missionaries sent by God. You can almost hear the pounding of the jailer’s heart and feel the adrenalin coursing through his veins as he humbly asks for instructions on how he can obtain salvation for his soul.
As he takes Paul and Silas back to his house and family he is already becoming renewed inside as the tough outer layer of his heart is being removed. As the entire family hears the good news that Paul and Silas are speaking they immediately believe and ask to be saved.
The Philippian jailer then washed their wounds that they had received at the hands of the magistrates. He also prepared food for them to eat and rejoiced having believed in God with his entire household.
What a great testimony it is to be praising God in the midst of a trial. To sing praises to our God when we are broken, beat up and strung out. Keeping our eyes on God is the secret along with being empowered by His Holy Spirit. Without God the plethora of pitfalls, disappointments and distractions cause us to become unbalanced and fearful allowing anxiety and panic to fill our minds.
The answer to overcoming anxiety is found in Paul’s letter to the church he established in Philippi through Lydia and this jailer. Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Oh what a joy it is to be firmly planted, unmovable, in the hands of a loving God. Our God is not angry with us; He doesn’t want to punish us and has stated this fact in the gospel of John 3:15-18. Many of you have one of these verses recorded on your hearts; these are wonderful verses that have been written on sacred parchment in Israel as well as spray painted on bridge abutments in Southern California.
For now there is no condemnation for those of us who have believed in Christ Jesus. Just believe in your own heart that God has indeed raised Him from death and then confess with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you will be saved. He is a God who really cares, not a wrathful tyrant wanting to injure and maim His creation in the name of terror. It is our enemy who is filled with that kind of hate!
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”