“When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 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. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:24-26).

reflect

When my daughter slept in a crib, it amazed me that she could wake up and play in it for half an hour like she was throwing a party with all her stuffed animals.

I would get claustrophobic pretty quickly, not to mention bored, but she was content in her crib.

I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Paul and Silas to praise God while confined in stocks in prison. They were not only in prison, but in the “inner prison,” a dark, damp, disease-infested place.

Can you imagine the other prisoners? Praise was the last thing on their agenda.

It’s really easy to go down to the level of those around you when you feel like the only ones with a different perspective. It’s also really easy to go down to the level of your circumstances.

Let God remind us that His level is “rejoice always.”

When you only praise God when things are going well, but are silent or critical of Him when things are bad, you are praising God based on your circumstances rather than praising Him for who He is.  

As Charles Spurgeon said, “When we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”

When a storm shakes your house, you’ll find out if your foundation is on Christ or something else (Matthew 7:24-27).

Paul and Silas had no idea how long they would be in prison. It could’ve been years, but they praised God before the victory, not after it was won.

If you are feeling claustrophobic because of your circumstances, at least you’re not asphyxiated. My feet may be tied, but my hands and mouth can still praise Him!

As early church theologian Tertullian once said, “The legs feel nothing in the stocks when the heart is in heaven.”

react

> Is there something in your life that feels like a prison?

> Is your inclination to praise God or to criticize, complain or pout?