This past week has certainly been a challenging one, there were times when I did honestly feel like throwing the towel in, yet God reminded me of His goodness and that He is in control.
I'd like you to read Acts 16:23-30
And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So many people have been going on about Paul & Silas praying in the prison this past week. I've heard it on UCB radio as well. It's like God is trying to tell me something but I thought it must go deeper that just singing and praying through my circumstances, and it does.
The Jailer put Paul & Silas in the inner prison and bound their feet with stocks. Have you ever felt like your situation has become like a prison, with walls so high and an iron gate keeping you locked in? Not to mention those stocks which have bound your feet keeping you stuck in that situation! I have felt that sometimes about my dad's illness and the battle we are all facing with it. It hurts me to see my dad suffer and going through what he has this past 5 years, it almost feels like a prison. And although it it not down to me to change this situation, I have often allowed doubt to keep my feet bound in the stocks. I know that I am guilty of looking around my "prison cell" and thinking this is it, this is my situation and i'm locked in and it's impossible to get out. I am stuck". Have you ever felt like that? I'm sure you have!
But Paul and Silas teach us a very valuable lesson here. At midnight, they were praying and singing. Midnight is dark. Yet in the midst of darkness they sand and praised God! And the other prisoners who too were in darkness, listened to the praises to God our King. I think it's saying that when we are at our darkest times we still need to acknowledge who God is and praise Him for all He has done for us. Often when we are in our prison, in the darkness, we are so busy trying to find out way around that we forget that Jesus is Light and by refocusing on Him, He opens our eyes and the door to our prisons. Jesus provides hope.
"Suddenly there was a great earthquake..." WOW! Gosh, sometimes we just need a little faith hey! When God sends an earthquake/rumble in the darkness He means business!! The prison foundations were shaken and the doors flew open! Woohoo!!! how excited are we when the doors fly open and we can get the hell out of there. But STOP!!!!!! Paul and Silas did not run. That was not God's plan for them. If Paul & Silas had run from their prison cell they would still be prisoners, but prisoners on the run. And once the law had caught up with them, back to the prison they would go. Often times we want to run as soon as we see the door open, but that is when we need to stop and think and ask God for His guidance. Paul and Silas stayed in that prison and God brought so much good out of it. Firstly the prison guard was prevented from taking his life, then his family got saved, and then Paul & Silas were officially released from prison. They were not longer prisoners. They trusted God that bit longer and pushed on that bit deeper and God rewarded them greatly. They were no longer tied to that place that once held them in the stocks, but were free and free indeed!
I think what I'm trying to say is that God uses the situation we are in to do immeasurably more than we can imagine, and if we run as soon at the door cracks open we can miss out on God's amazing blessings. God wants every good thing for His children, but as children we need to learn obedience to God and trust in His timing. You may feel you are in that prison right now, but I want to give you a few points to follow so that you can see your way out, God's way.
1. In the darkness, praise God. Acknowledge Him in your situation. Take your eyes off the prison and put them fixed upon God.
2. Thank Him for what He has already done in your life
3. Don't moan about your situation to others, instead let those you talk to be like the other prisoners hearing you praise and worship God's name despite your situation. That includes serving and getting on with things.
4. When the door cracks open, don't make a run for it. Ask God where he wants you to be, thank him that he has opened the door and removed your shackles, but seek Him and find out if there is anymore He wants to bring out of the situation.
5. Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see in the darkness. The jailor had to fetch a light to see the prisoners still sitiing there, we just need to ask God to be our Light so that we can see the goings on around us.
6. Keep praising. Even when the tears are flowing and your heart is breaking, God is able. Praise Him for that.
Now I will share a little of what has happened in my situation in the past week. My dad was taken into hospital last week, as fluid had collected in his abdomen and he needed ti drained off. To cut a loooong story short, they accidentally punctured his small intestines and he was told if the hole didn't seal itself he would be dead within days due to infection. This really stole my peace, and I could see it stole the peace of those in my family. This is not the way its meant to happen! If God does choose to take my father I couldn't imagine Him allowing him to die at the hands of medicine, over someone's mistake. So we prayed! We texted hundreds of people and people were praying through the night. They lifted us up when our faith was battered and they held up our arms over the battle. And we saw God move!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amen!!! God healed that hole right up and my dad has no signs of infection! Praise the Lord! Not only that, but my dad had the opportunity to release the poor doctor responsible from his burden by forgiving him openly and God has brought good out of this situation. My dad will come home today!
This showed me so much that God is still in control. Even when faced with prison, the shackles binding my feet, and all i could do was see darkness, God is able. And He met our need and brought good out of it. Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!
It has renewed my faith that God can heal my dad fully because He is able. I believe this was just an example God gave us to know that He is in control, that He is able and that He is Sovereign. God willnot let my dad die prematurely, and I know now when it is his time, be it soon or many many years down the line, God ordained it.
But let us now pray and fast and trust the Lord that He can do immeasurably more than we can think of in our situations. I am praying my dad will not die right now, but live and have a new body restored to Him. He is a child of God, and God wants every good thing for His children!