"Why am I telling you this," one might wonder. Because auto-immune diseases, along with most chronic illnesses, don't usually just give a person a bad day physically here and there. Most of us measure our bad days in spans of weeks and sometimes months. And when that happens, it is extremely easy to focus on all the problems in our lives rather than focus on the good.
There's a part of me that wonders how Paul and Silas immediately responded to their circumstances. I say this because verse twenty-three and twenty-four describes what happened to Paul and Silas, but verse twenty-five says, "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God." If you study the original language in which this text was written, you see that it's very clear there is a gap of time from when they were thrown in jail to when they began praising God. I might be completely wrong in what I'm about to say, but I think for a little while Paul and Silas were focused on their chains and imprisonment.
It's understandable. I think the majority of us can say we have the tendency to focus on our own chains - chains of sickness, chains of financial burdens, chains of family strife, and the list goes on and on. But what God has shown me through Paul and Silas is we may not be responsible for the circumstances in life that overwhelm us, but we are responsible for the way we respond to those circumstances. Rather than being fixated on our chains, we should be focused on our Savior. Trusting God can be the difference between going under or overcoming our chains.
Praising God made all the difference in Paul and Silas's situation. Their chains were loosed and the prison doors opened. Not only that, but the prison guard and his whole family came to know the Lord because of Paul and Silas's witness.
What a great testimony to us all! Life may have us hedged in with no way to escape the trials we are facing, but God is with us. If for no other reason than that, we have a reason to praise our awesome God. I don't know if praising God will open the prison doors and change our circumstances as it did for Paul and Silas, but I guarantee it will change our outlook.
"This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I have hope in Him.' " ~ Lamentations 3:21-24
(c) January 19, 2011