“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.””
Acts 16:25-31 NKJV
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Such an old adage with so much truth! In any life there are trials and generally bad things that happen. One can easily fall back on the pressure of the struggle and become completely consumed by it. There is little forward movement, as one is stymied, stuck in the muck of trouble.
Sometimes, the bad things come into life by the efforts of others. My life has been like that. I was born into struggle, a dark hued child in white skinned world, uncomfortably smart, perhaps too much so for my own good, making others wary of my razor sharp insight.
Marred by years of sexual abuse, stunting my impulses, resulting in a shut down, reclusive human being who often recoils from touch, and desires isolation.
My adult years have been full of dire health issues. I have lemons a plenty.
Before I came to know Jesus, life was a dismal wreck, but God was able to take all things and work them out for His glory.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NKJV
I was back in the Book of Acts this morning, as I read of the arrest and beating of Paul and Silas, cast into jail with no hearing, having been punished without trial. Most of us would be so angry that we would be consumed with the injustice of what we had endured. But Paul and Silas prayed, sang hymns, and when the Lord provided, told of the glory of God and led a fearful jailer to Christ.
They took lemons of persecution, and made refreshing lemonade of salvation. As they endured in the dark, dank jail, the other prisoners were witnesses to their devotion to their God.
I can imagine the moment, as two bleeding men singing, with shaken voices, cringing through pain, praises to the Lord. Then a sudden earthquake and chains loosened.
Even with the sudden freedom, they did not escape, but used the moment to expand the Kingdom of God.
God took all the evil of that moment, and did what only He could do, as the Holy Spirit convicted the jailer, who in turn introduced Paul and Silas to his family. As the leader of his family, he led the way to Jesus for all in his household. As the father goes, so often go all who follow.
When I consider all the evil things that have been unleashed on my life, I know that Jesus uses it for His glory. Come what may, slander, gossip, racism, rejection, whatever, He shows His sovereignty as my witness reaches many who have been through the same things have endured.
I remember years ago sharing with the congregation at my previous church the impact of the events of my childhood. In the aftermath, I had many opportunities to minister to people who came up to me to share their stories.
Brothers and sisters, we are being watched by people who have been imprisoned by sin, by abuse, by addiction, by a multitude of other things that can destroy a life.
We bring the hope of redemption in the Gospel message. Let us, even when things are bad and we have been dealt with harshly, show the love of Jesus.
I can say that God has brought many opportunities into my life to be refined and built up in this. As I have experienced the pain, I have also experienced an increase in His presence in my life. It is like He is reminding me whose I am.
Just as Paul and Silas, prayed, praised, and then proclaimed, let us be ready even in the dark times to share the Good News. You never know that it could be your persecutor’s heart that is open.
I pray for those in opposition, even when my desire is to strike back. I keep in mind that they know not what they do, or have no idea of the consequences should they continue. The work of the Lord must be in the forefront and our primary reason to endure.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
I Peter 3:15-17 NKJV
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