About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.Acts 16:25 NIV
In this passage, Paul and Silas had cast a fortune-telling spirit out of a young slave girl. Rather than being commended for their actions, they were beaten, thrown into prison, and placed into stocks. If there was ever a time to be discouraged and feel bad, that would be it.
But what did they do? They did not have a pity party. Instead, in their time of suffering, they spent the night in worship, praying to God and singing hymns. And not quietly, either. All of the other prisoners were listening to them. This is very much in line with what the apostles did when beaten by the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:40-41. After the beating, they left “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Jesus.“
Responding to Suffering
And what an example they set for us today. In the US, we seldom really suffer for our faith. At worst, we are usually only inconvenienced. But rather than complain because someone is depriving me of my “rights” as a Christian, I should rejoice. Now that doesn’t mean I should go looking for trouble. But when it comes, I should be thankful for the privilege of suffering for my Lord (Phil. 1:29).
The other significant thing about this passage, that I often overlook, concerns their fellow prisoners. They were paying attention to what was going on with Paul and Silas. While nothing is said about their reaction, I think it is safe to assume that it made an impact on many of them. Something was different about these two guys, something that would allow them to worship where others would have complained. Other people are watching my reaction to the challenges I face. Does my worship in a time of suffering glorify God, and draw others to him?