Saturday, May 07, 2016

Singing through your stress test

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 16:16-40

TO CHEW ON: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25

What do you do when people keep you waiting, when someone from your family is unaccountably late, when you’ve been involved in a fender-bender, when you have just received the diagnosis – and it’s cancer or Alzheimer's? Our lives are full of stress tests. They range from mere annoyances to life-threatening situations. How we handle them says a lot about the real state of our faith in God.

Paul and Silas exorcised a demon spirit from a slave girl and so loosed her from spiritual and physical bondage. The result was outrage from the men who were making money by her fortune-telling ability – now lost. As a result the missionaries got a beating of “many stripes” and then imprisonment in the securest part of a Philippi prison with their feet immobilized by stocks. Their response to this stressful situation was to pray and sing. Pray I can understand – but sing? That seems like a whole new level of trust and relinquishment.

I can just imagine the reaction if this had happened to some of us.
  • Confusion: Maybe we didn’t get the Spirit’s leading to get to Macedonia right after all. Look at what has happened!
  • Self-pity: Why is this happening to me when I’m serving God.
  • Blame – loaded on ourselves or others: Did I or someone else sin to warrant this treatment? 
However, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the man who penned Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:6-7 trusted God without reservation in the middle of something that looked so bad and could sing to prove it.

Of course Paul and Silas’s faith in God was well placed. That day God not only sent an earthquake to spring them from prison, but the jail keeper and his family trusted in God because of their testimony.

Back to our waiting and worrying, our fender-bender and diagnosis. Do we believe that God is in these circumstances too? Do we believe it to the extent that we get past the place of praying desperate prayers to the place of singing hymns of praise – even while we’re still in the middle of the test?

PRAYER: Dear God, please increase my faith that You are in every circumstance of my life. Help me to live today with the settled inner peace that knows You are in charge, and that Your plans are good. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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