Let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
If there was ever a time to complain and be discouraged, Paul and Silas had found it. Stripped naked, they were severely beaten and flogged. Bruised, bloodied and in pain, their captors threw them into the darkest recesses of the jail. Feet placed in stocks, they were unable to turn to relieve the pressure of the hard floor against their broken bodies.
I would have expected them to cry out in pain and fear for their lives, but instead, they prayed and sang songs to God as fellow prisoners listened. I wonder if Psalm 5:11 wasn’t one of the songs sung. Their songs and prayers invited God’s presence into the darkness; the power of God shook the prison; doors flew open and everyone’s chains came undone.
Strangely, no one tried to escape. The drive for self preservation would spur most people to run for their lives, but they did the opposite; they stayed and risked further suffering so that the jailer’s life would be spared. He and “all the others in his house” believed and were saved.
When life gets uncomfortable, my usual reaction is a quick prayer followed by a dose of self pity. Too often, I find myself bound up by the chains of my own complaints. I want to be like Paul and Silas and know the true freedom found in Christ. I want to have a humble, thankful heart that invites the presence God regardless of the circumstances. The only way I know how to get there is to not waste another moment and to start praising God right now, right where I am.
Lord, you deserve a lifetime of praise from me. Forgive me when I get discouraged and bogged down in complaints. Turn my heart towards you so that I might sing of your goodness and celebrate the wonders of who you no matter what comes my way. Thank you for the life of freedom have called me into. Amen