Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: JOIE DE VIVRE (delight in being alive) (08/18/16)
- TITLE: Unfeigned Joy
By Pat Small
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The stench was nearly unbearable, almost worse than the hunger, the pain, the discomfort. Harder to bear than the darkness and the cold. Worse than being imprisoned and the shame of being treated as though they were common criminals. And for what? For doing good. That was the irony of the situation. They had cast a demon out of a suffering young lady. They had spoken of Jesus.
There were many other prisoners squirming about uncomfortably as well, searching for a modicum of relief from their misery. Who knew what crimes they had committed? Their curses filled the air. Their moans echoed in the cave. One by one they dozed off until Paul and Silas were the only ones awake. Softly, Paul began to sing. Silas joined him. They laughed out loud. Wretched: in pain, cold and imprisoned for the sin of telling about the Lord Jesus. It was ludicrous when you thought about it.
“Remember that day Jesus talked about being blessed? The others told us about it. One of the times he said we would be blessed would be when we were being persecuted.”
“I do remember. At first, I thought that would be an impossibility. But I am actually happy to be found worthy to suffer for our Lord.”
“Um hmm. This is nothing compared to what He suffered for us.” Their singing grew louder. And then…what was happening? It felt like the earth was moving beneath them. Would the place cave in and they all be killed? As they moved to adjust their positions, they realized the stocks had loosened. Feeling a swoosh of air, they sensed the doors were open. Yet, not a one of the prisoners made a move to escape. In just that instant, the jailer drew his sword. It would be better to kill himself than be murdered for allowing his charges to escape.
Paul sensed his despair as he heard the sword rub against the sheath. “It’s alright. We’re all here. Don’t harm yourself.”
“Bring me a light,” he screamed as he rubbed feverishly at his eyes. Was he hallucinating? Surely, I am a dead man, he thought. No one would stay here when he could be free. Then it dawned on him. They actually WERE all there. He could see them now. Thoughts jumbled in his mind. He remembered when the soldiers brought in Paul and Silas. He had inquired about their crime. Could it be true, the things they were saying about this man they called Jesus? Could he really be the Son of God? What was happening right now definitely was a miracle. Yes, he believed. He knew it inside. There was no other explanation. He fell to his knees. “What must I do to be saved?” Desperation tinged his speech. He trembled. When he regained control of his senses, he washed their stripes, took them to his house and had his wife feed them. His entire household believed that night and were baptized.
Was it the joyous attitude Paul and Silas demonstrated? Was it simply God’s way of freeing them? Was it the manner God had chosen to reach the jailer’s heart? Maybe all of the above. We may never know, but Paul and Silas demonstrated a joy that did not depend on circumstances.
“Lord, help me to have your joy in my life. As you said in John 16:24, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”(KJV.) You promised us joy often in your Word. Fulfill it in my life I pray.”
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