Friday, April 1, 2011

How Do You Handle Adversity?

It must have been quite an earthquake!*  The foundations of the Roman jail were shaken, the prison doors flew open and the chains of all the prisoners fell away.  You'd expect mayhem, prisoners bolting from their captivity, cries of victory on their lips.

The jailer woke up and, expecting to find an empty prison, was just about to kill himself.  After all, prison officials don't look too well on a jailer who can't keep his occupants contained!

But what he found changed his life.

Paul and Silas, who had been severely flogged and thrown into prison the night before, called out to the jailer, "Don't harm yourself!  We are all here!"

Why hadn't they all escaped when they had the chance?

Paul and Silas trusted God with their lives.  That's why, even when they were in jail for setting a slave girl free, they prayed and sang hymns to God.  They saw the prison as a place of freedom, not bondage.  And the other prisoners listened to their praises and their prayers.  It was the faith and courage of these men of God that influenced the other prisoners and kept them from running.

And the jailer?  He "called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'"  That night, he and his whole family turned to Christ and were baptized.  He cleaned the wounds of his prisoners, fed them, and he and his family were "filled with joy, because they had come to believe in God."

As followers of Jesus, how do we respond to adversity?  It could have a profound affect on others.

*This story is found in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 16, verses 22-34

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