Acts 16:22-25 (NIV)
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
One of the American authors I love to read is O. Henry (and I like his candy bar, too). I like him because his short stories all come with a surprise…a twist you weren’t expecting. Luke does the same thing here in Acts.
Let’s recount where we are in the story. Our heroes, Paul and Silas, just set a woman free from life-long, demonic shackles. But before they have time to rejoice, the men who were trafficking her future-telling skills angrily and forcibly drag them before the magistrates. After a few lies, they incite a mob who then strip, beat, and flog the Apostles. They are thrown into prison and put in stocks.
Then the surprise: They were there, in this sorry place and in this sorry state “praying and singing hymns to God” while all the other prisoners listened.
What are you going through right now? Feel imprisoned by something? Are you stuck in the stocks of life? Feel stripped, beaten, and severely flogged by circumstances? Well, let me suggest that your “way out” is worship. When we feel this way (imprisoned, stuck, and beaten-up) it is because we have “zoomed-in” on our circumstances. Worship is the art of zooming-out. Worship is focusing on God’s promise of deliverance rather on the thing from which we need deliverance.
Don’t let what’s wrong in life keep you from worshiping what’s right with God!