In Acts 16 we are in the midst of a journey with Paul and Silas - on one of their many journeys together spreading the gospel message. But on this occasion, they come across a woman - a girl really - who is possessed by "spirit of divination" and some very worldly-wise men are making money off her predictions. But when she saw Paul and Silas she started following them:
Acts 16:17-18 -
"This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation. And this she did for many days."
Finally Paul had enough of this girl and her spirit of divination and commanded the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus. Well, suffice to say - that her managers were beyond miffed at this occurrence. Angry that their money maker was now gone - they arrested Paul and Silas and took them before the magistrates, the rulers of the town.
Acts 16:20-21 -
"And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, 'These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
Well of course, everyone was riled up into a riot and beat Paul and Silas and threw them in prison. But here is where it gets really interesting. Instead of bemoaning their situation and cursing the head of everyone involved - including God - what where they doing??
Acts 16:25 -
"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them."
What an odd sound to be heard in the Roman prison. Ellen White puts it this way:
Acts of the Apostles 214.1 -
"With astonishment the other prisoners heard the sound of prayer and singing issuing from the inner prison. They had been accustomed to hear shrieks and moans, cursing and swearing, breaking the silence of the night; but never before had they heard words of prayer and praise ascending from that gloomy cell. Guards and prisoners marveled and asked themselves who these men could be, who, cold, hungry, and tortured, could yet rejoice."
Could there be a better witness to these men in this dark and dismal place. Honestly, the situation was probably as bad as it could get. They are arrested under false accusations, unknowing of what the future holds in that inner most part of the prison - securely under lock and key. But here they are - singing praises to God in the midst of their torture and imprisonment. God did not forget them. Ellen White state that angels were sent to comfort them and the trod of their feet is what set the earthquake and unlocked all the doors and chains of the prisoners. What an amazing thing to have been able to see and experience.
Because of this witness - the jailer and all of his household were brought to Christ. This witness of praising God through suffering brought this family to Jesus. God promises - through the words of Paul that we are never put through anything that we will not be able, through His strength, to handle.
1 Corinthians 10:13 -
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
How much easier is it - knowing that this promise is sure, and knowing that through whatever suffering I might in the future endure - that my situation, my trial could be the thing that kickstarts someone else's journey to find God? So, do we bemoan our circumstances - wishing that we were anywhere else than where we are right now? Or do we praise God that we have the privilege to be able to suffer as He suffered and that no matter how bad it gets we have not 'loved our lives to the death'? That we pray to God that even if one person is brought closer to that question of 'what must I do to be saved' - that the price of heaven was cheap enough?
My question to you is: What kind of witness are you?