Falsely accused when you were only doing good, dragged through the marketplace, beaten, flogged, thrown into the worst part of the prison without a trial, your feet clamped in stocks so you couldn't move or even tend to your wounds. Suddenly an earthquake shakes the prison. The doors open. Your chains come loose. What do you do? Well, if you are Paul, who had been singing hymns of praise in the prison, you would remain put, saving the life of your jailer and leading him and his household to becoming followers of Christ.
Paul certainly knew what it was to suffer bad times. Half way through his ministry he wrote this
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones,three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches" (2nd Corinthians 11)
Yet it was also Paul who could say in his letter to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4) And to the Romans he says, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
That is our message in Sunday School this week as we talk about Paul and Silas in prison.