And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. Acts 16:25-26;
Following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Silas came to Macedonia to preach the gospel of Christ. Whilst carrying on this divine assignment, they had an encounter with a demon-possessed girl who through spirit of divination was engaged by her masters to extort money from the people by manipulation and soothsaying. At the command of Apostle Paul however, the spirit of divination was cast out of the little girl and as a result, her masters who made so much money by soothsaying lost out and were sore aggrieved. This led to immediate arrest and humiliation of Paul and Silas: they were stripped naked, dragged on the floor, beaten and tortured in the market square. With blisters and bruises all over their bodies, they were thrown into the prison with their feet firmly held down in stocks.
Apparently the situation that Paul and Silas found themselves was not an interesting one. They were in serious pain and had every reason to grief uncontrollably. However, they did something unusual; Instead of complaining, blaming God for their predicament or resorting to self-pity, they prayed and sang praises unto God. It appears that though they were confined to prison, there was something in them the enemies could not imprison. The joy of the Lord in their hearts was flowing freely without restrictions. This was the reason they were able to sing praises in the prisons. That cheerful heart dispelled the pains inflicted on them by the thorough beating received from the mob few hours earlier. For them, it was a sunny day even though it was a dark midnight all around!
What was the secret of their joy? Why were they able to go through all these difficulties and trying moments without feeling sad or getting angry at God who should have at least prevented them from humiliation, after all they were in Macedonia to preach the gospel of Christ? One secret of staying joyful at all times is that we must not permit any trouble to get into our hearts. It is clear that the hearts of Paul and Silas were shielded from the happenings and situations around them, which was why they remained happy and excited to sing praises to God in spite of their condition. The truth is that whatever cannot weigh your heart down will never be able to overcome or destroy you. If you ate strong at heart you would never grow weak in the face of challenges of life.
Another secret of staying joyful is making that decision to be happy always. Happiness is indeed a choice. The Lord never said we would not come across tribulations, trials and challenges. But He told us to be cheerful always because He has overcome the world. There is no way we can be cheerful and our lives wouldn’t be bright. To a cheerful man, every day is bright but to him that is sad, it is always gloomy. Paul and Silas had made that decision to be cheerful in whatever situation they found themselves that was why it was not difficult for them to sing with excitement. A lot of believers go about with their problems written all over their faces and they have made themselves objects of pity just because they do not wear a cheerful look. No, it ought not to be so.
Whilst Paul and Silas were singing praises to God in chains and shackles, other prisoners would be wondering what it was that they were excited about. Most of them were probably making jest of Paul and Silas and laughing at the amusing scene. They did not see any reason to join in the excitement and singing of Paul and Silas because they were not only confined to physical prisons, their hearts were also in bondage.
Dearly beloved, are you bothered by the situation in which you find yourself to the extent that your heart is sinking deep in sorrow? God says you could stay joyful no matter the situation. The devil cannot steal your joy if you do not allow him to do so. When all that your naked eyes could see are challenges and confinements, you must decide to look through the eyes of your heart and see God above all situations. As the deliverance of Paul and Silas came suddenly so also God will cause your breakthrough to come suddenly. Let not your heart be troubled, stay joyful and cheerful, God is working on your behalf and every one will soon see and rejoice with you. Amen.