Imprisoned or Empowered?

I’m right. I know it. There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind. It’s the principal of the matter. You have backed me into a corner, you have cheated me and I feel beaten and defeated. You have pushed me to my limit. I am a prisoner to a situation that I cannot escape.

While in Philippi, a young slave girl followed Paul around for days and taunted him. She made fun of him in front of the entire city. After being patient as long as he could, Paul had been pushed to his limit and called on Jesus for one of his little miracles to hush up this incessant trouble maker. It worked. The slave girl’s owner wasn’t impressed and rallied the entire town to join in a brutal attack on Paul and Silas. They were stripped, beaten, flogged and thrown into prison where they were locked up in chains.

After settling in to their circumstance, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns. They were in a situation they could not change. God had them exactly where he wanted them. And they sang and praised God. Their backs were bruised and bleeding. And they sang. They sang so loud that the earth shook (a little literary freedom here). The violent earthquake shook the very foundation of the prison and flung open the locked gates and loosed the chains that bound the prisoners. Paul and Silas could have walked out to freedom.

The guard feared being put to death if he lost his prisoners. He might as well kill himself. His life as he knew it must be over.

Acts 16:28-31: But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" The jailer 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?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."

Just a few simple words from Paul resulted in a divine appointment that empowered and transformed the prison guard’s life forever.

Dear God,
When I think that things can get no worse; when I feel tied to circumstance I cannot escape, empower me. Shake up my earth – even when I feel beaten and confined. In that small moment as the earth moves beneath my feet, help me to see those around me in distress. Help me to comfort those who have not been touched by your mighty hand of healing grace. Help me to serve as a witness and empower. Place me in circumstances where I can experience your divine appointment. Put away my fear. Put away my doubt. Help me to sing loud enough to move the earth. Help me to forgive those who oppress me.
Help me to find the divine within my despair. Give me faith like Paul and Silas. Amen.

Carole Schumacher

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