How often are you shocked when you find yourself smack dab in the middle of trials and adversity?

The Bible says all believers will endure trials and suffering (1 Peter 4:12-13). Yet, when it happens to us, we often question the reasons for it. We wriggle and wrestle to get out of it. We struggle to see God in the midst of it.

In Acts 16, we get a glimpse of God leading Paul into the fire to rescue people from it. Verses 6-8 tell us that the Holy Spirit forbade and closed the door for Paul to go preach in Ephesus. He guided Paul to Philippi instead.

God intentionally sends His people to places where the gospel has not extended. He divinely places us in the right place and at the right time to reach the lost.

Once in Philippi, Paul had great success. He was led to Lydia of Thyatira who not only became the first documented Christian convert in Europe, but she also began hosting the first Philippian church in her home (Acts 16:13-15, 40).

What an awesome accomplishment by the Holy Spirit!

Next, Paul was led to a demon-possessed slave girl. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul freed the girl from satanic bondage and attack within an hour (Acts 16:16-18).

What an awesome accomplishment by the Holy Spirit!

So far, it is easy to see why God led Paul to Philippi: church-planting, demonic exorcism. Great gains were made for the kingdom of God.

However, when God’s glory and work are evident, we must be vigilant and watchful for coming opposition (1 Peter 5:8). Paul and Silas were arrested, severely beaten, and imprisoned as a result of being obedient to God’s leading and calling.

Why is it difficult for us to consider Paul’s arrest, beating, and imprisonment as an awesome accomplishment?

I think it is because when we are obedient and do good for God, we expect that He will reward us by doing good for us. Unfortunately, that’s not biblical truth.

The truth is, God’s people will face suffering and persecution as Jesus did (Philippians 1:29, Matthew 16:24, 2 Timothy 1:8-9). We cannot control whether we will suffer. We can only control how we choose to endure suffering.

Let’s see how Paul and Silas endured their suffering.

Verse 25 tells us they prayed and sang hymns to God while the prisoners listened to them. How awesome is that!  Even in the midst of suffering and persecution, they were so full of God that He was the only thing that poured out of them.

Because Paul and Silas’ response to suffering focused on God, it caused those who were watching and suffering to focus on Him as well.

Believers can trust that God is sovereign in our best circumstances as well as our worst. Even though the results may not come out as we planned, God is still in control. He can carry out His plan and purposes through anyone and anything (Job 42:2, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 19:21, Matthew 19:26).

God sent a supernatural earthquake to open the prison doors and release prison chains.

Here is the awesome and miraculous rescue that we have been waiting for! We assume that God sent this earthquake to free Paul and Silas as a reward for all of their suffering.

But no! Paul and Silas did not escape. They did not run. The love of Jesus Christ compelled them to stay and sacrifice their physical freedom for the spiritual freedom of the jailer.

People will know we are Christians by our great and sacrificial love (John 13:34-35).  Paul and Silas were so full of God that they continued to pour out what was inside of them: the gospel of Jesus Christ. After the earthquake, Paul shared the gospel with the jailer and his family.

Simply put: peace with God can only be found in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.

God purposefully led and directed Paul and the disciples to endure unjust imprisonment and severe beating so a jailer and his family would be saved.

What an awesome accomplishment by the Holy Spirit!

During our periods of suffering, it is easy to become self-focused and miss what God is doing around us. Will the “prisoners” around us hear our songs of praise and worship to God or will they hear us whine and complain about our circumstances?

When God offers us rescue from our suffering, will we make the sacrifice to continue to share God with those who are stuck in their suffering and still need Jesus?

Will we be diligent to ensure that we keep our hearts so full of God and so full of love that when hard times come, nothing but the love of God will pour out?

We grossly underestimate our power and ability to reach people, especially in the midst of our suffering. When we suffer well for God, we get the privilege to show people we serve a God worth suffering for. When we suffer well for God, we get the privilege to reveal the hope we have in Jesus. In turn, this may move them to seek that hope as well.

In what circumstance are you struggling to suffer well for God? How can we pray for you?

Peace and grace to you,

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