It started as something good, but ended up with Paul in prison. Acts 16 tells us how Paul was repeatedly harassed by a fortune teller (verse 16-17). After many days of this, Paul said to the spirit in her, “‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’And it came out at that very moment (18).” The result was that her masters lost a source of income so Paul and Silas were seized and ultimately imprisoned (19-24).
It sounds so unfair that Paul and Silas are imprisoned because of this act — because of money. Yet we soon learn that God has other purposes for this event. In verse 25-26, we read how Pail and Silas were singing and praying when an earthquake shakes the prison, opens the cell door and unfastened everyone’s chains. The startled jailer saw what happened and is about to kill himself, but Paul shouts to him, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here (27-28).” What happens next reveals God’s purposes.
The jailer fell at the feet of Paul and Silas and asked them, “what must I do to be saved (30)?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household (31).” The jailer is baptized along with his entire household (32-33). The jailer “rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household (34).” Because of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, the jailer experienced the power of God and believed in Jesus. Imagine who this jailer spread the gospel message to because of their imprisonment.
When bad things happen to us, it can be hard to see any good in it. Sometimes the hardship is so severe that we can barely pray. Paul and Silas, chained in prison, “were praying and singing hymns of praise to God (25).” They remained focused on God. Not only did the other prisoners hear them, but ultimately the jailer comes to faith in Jesus. It can be hard to understand God’s purposes, particularly as we suffer through bad events in our life, but Paul reminds us to stay focused on God; to continue to pray to Him and praise Him; to know God is victorious and ultimately has a higher purpose.
© 2021 CGThelen