November 4, 2019
In reading Acts 16 recently the Lord
impressed me with the intensity of Paul
and Silas' suffering. Not only were they
shamefully humiliated by a public
beating but their physical condition was
terrible, intense, painful beyond our
Roman lictors had laid "many strips" on
their bare backs, with canes or
scourges, leaving hundreds of
lacerations, free bleeding, deep
bruises, and burning, unrelieved pain,
as they were not attended to by a
physician (only hours later did the
jailer wash their wounds, 16:33).
Besides this they were placed in stocks
(16:24), which often twisted the legs
and feet into a painfully unnatural
position or, at the least, rendered them
unable to move in the dark, filthy,
stench-and-insect-ridden "inner prison."
Talk about hurting? They were hurting in
every way, psychologically, emotionally,
and physically. We cannot imagine how
pained they were.
But in the depths of agony they made a
monumental decision: they would not let
their pain quench their praise!
Quivering and trembling with weakness,
they began praying and singing praises
to God (16:25) and, as God's Spirit met
their brave sacrifice with His power,
I'm sure their chorus increased in
volume and steadiness until throughout
all levels of the jail "the prisoners
heard them" (16:25). Witnessing this
wonder of grace, God responded with His
own wonder, shaking the foundations of
the prison and releasing His two master
overcomers from their pit of pain.
"Suddenly ... all the doors were
opened," their chains fell off, and they
walked out (16:26). But there's more.
sacrificial worship moved God's
heart so mightily that He not only freed
them but also set others free all around
them. "Every one's bands were loosed"
throughout the prison (16:26)! What a
lesson for us!
This text is telling us that if, when
hurting badly, we offer sacrificial
worship with our prayers, the Spirit of
God will not only fall afresh upon us
with powerful peace and strength, make
our psychological, emotional, and
physical "bands" fall off, and open new
doors of opportunity, blessing, or
ministry for us, but He will also fall
on and liberate others all around us.
Spouses, children, parents, neighbors,
co-workers, schoolmates, fellow
Christians, and others we've never even
met (as in Paul's case) will be
liberated from sin and bondage.
inexplicably, yet undeniably, "every
one's bands" will be loosed. Why?
this monumental decision: "I will not
allow my pain, however acute, to quench
my praise! Pardon me, while I pry a
Are you hurting today? Lost a friend?
Suffered a shocking injustice?
Experienced a sizeable financial loss?
Stuck in a long, hard trial with a
sharp-tongued person who tongue-lashes
you often? Physically ill, infirm, or
injured with little hope of full
recovery? Unfulfilled in your
profession? Unsuccessful in your
business? Unfruitful in your ministry?
Unable to have children? Unable to help
your children? Unable to find a spouse?
Stressed and challenged by your spouse
daily? Misunderstood and slandered by
people you've never even met? Betrayed?
Or suffering some other kind of
psychological, emotional, or physical
All these "hurts" put you in Paul's
position - in an "inner prison" of
intense pain. Why not follow his example
and see what God, who plays no
favorites, will do for you?
Offer sacrificial worship with your
prayers. Yes, worship while you're
hurting. Turn your mind from your
"bleeding" to your blessing - and begin
blessing your Blesser! Expect the Holy
Spirit to come upon you with fresh
strength, peace, and inner liberty and
praise Him when He does so. And don't
Expect Him, as you continue offering
sacrificial worship daily, to set others
free all around you. One here, one
there. One this week, another two weeks
later, four next month. The joy of
seeing God's hand spontaneously moving
and steadily ministering in response to
your sacrificial worship will lift you
out of your "prison" of hurt just as
surely as if you walked out of it
through a tangible door into a brand new
life of flowing joyful fulfillments,
miracles, and ministry.