When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” Acts 16:27-28
Paul and Silas were in a sticky situation. They had been falsely arrested and beaten. Then they were thrown in a dungeon. I can picture it was not like our sparse, pristine stainless steel prison cells. It was probably dark, damp, rat infested and had no restrooms in sight. And what were they doing? Praising God and singing! That’s lesson number one for me. To praise God in all circumstances having faith that I am in His hands and He will not forsake me no matter what I go through – of my own doing or not. His gracious love always provides a bridge back to His presence.
But there is a second lesson. When the miracle happened, the prison shook and the doors flew open- Paul and Silas didn’t run. In fact, they persuaded the other prisoners to stay as well. Now that is faith! God told them to stay put. Why? Because that was not the escape He had planned for them. If they had left, it would have cost the jailer his life. He never would have come to Jesus. He and his household would not be saved. Also, an opportunity to witness to the authorities who had wronged them would be lost. I imagine a few of the other prisoners converted that night as well. If Paul and Silas had escaped, they would have broken the law and would have lost their credibility.
For me that is powerful. It tells me I need to be so intuned with God that no move I make is without His blessing. That He can uses the trouble in my life to His glory and even if I see a way out, it might not be the right way even though God’s hand is in it. When God’s quiet voice says “Not yet, wait.”, will I obey? Will you? Paul and Silas did. And because they did, people were saved. But Paul and Silas also were cared for. They received medical attention for their wounds and were well fed. They were freed and could leave town with their heads held high and a bunch of witnesses of how Mighty their God was. And He is still today, for me and for you.