June 10, 2021
You Get to Choose
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25, NIV).
Friend to Friend
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, our family got an up close and personal lesson on faith. Trials can lead us to a greater dependency on God and a deeper trust in His sovereignty if we let them. I’ve learned that in every situation I have a choice: I can pout, or I can praise.
I can turn away from God because I don’t understand, or I can turn toward God trusting that His understanding is enough for the both of us – even if it hurts – even if fear lingers – even if doubt looms.
Have you been to these crossroads?
God shows us a powerful example of praise-over-pout behavior in chapter sixteen of the book of Acts. During the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his ministry buddy Silas encountered a collision of faith and trouble while in Philippi.
After Paul cast out a demon that was terrorizing a young slave girl, he and Silas were seized by disgruntled Roman citizens and dragged to the marketplace before the rulers. They were then wrongfully accused of public disruption. And later stripped, beaten, and unlawfully jailed without a trial. After the flogging, Paul and Silas were taken to the inner cell of the prison, normally reserved for the most dangerous offenders, and their feet were placed in stocks.
Though they had every reason to sit and stew because of the injustice of their situation, Paul and Silas chose to trust in God's plan and praise their Lord, Jesus Christ. Though they had open wounds and would likely have been in severe physical pain, Paul and Silas chose to glorify the name of God.
"After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16: 23-25).
Then God shook the foundations of the prison and loosed the chains of the prisoners. In horror, knowing he would be held responsible for the escape of the prisoners, the jailer raised his sword to kill himself – but Paul stopped him. He and Silas hadn’t fled. They stood amidst their dark circumstances and spoke and sang with confidence in their God.
As a result, several people, including the jailer and his family, came to believe in Jesus Christ.
"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.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all of his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household" (Acts 16:29-34).
Though we won’t always rejoice in our circumstances, we are commanded to always rejoice in the Lord.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4, 6-7).
When we praise the Lord through, and in spite of, what we face our praise becomes our deliverance through the trial. Praise leads us to peace.
"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us" (Romans 5:3-5a).
This world is broken, and hardship is unavoidable. But no matter what difficult times we encounter, God is worthy of our praise.
When we choose to praise instead of pout, we choose to trust God.
When we choose to trust God rather than grow terrified in the trial, the wounded world around us lifts their eyebrows in wonder – just like the Roman jailer.
Yes. Trials will continue to come. Yes. Sometimes a sacrifice of praise is required. You get to choose whether or not you will offer it.
Dear Lord, Thank You for being trustworthy and praiseworthy! Help me trust You each time I approach crossroads of faith and trouble. In spite of the burdens on my heart and challenges in my path right now, I choose to praise Your name and celebrate that Your hope will never disappoint.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Praise that perseveres begins with a determined heart, mind and soul. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Are you standing at the faith/trouble crossroads today?
How would choosing to trust God and praise Him help you deal with your circumstances?
More from the Girlfriends
Need more help trusting God? Listen to the GRACEOLOGIE with Gwen Smith podcast. Each episode is filled with fun, faith-focused, grace-filled conversations that will help you know and trust God more. Click here to listen on iTunes or visit the website.
Portions of today’s post are an excerpt from the book Trusting God by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland.
© 2021 by Gwen Smith. All rights reserved.