I’m still here. Things have gotten very busy with two kiddos doing school from home and keeping up with all the normal daily chores and things that have to be done. But I’m still here. And quite frankly, I can’t think of anything to write about other than the Coronavirus because, like it or not, it’s our current reality. In the midst of the chaos and the crazy and the surreal unsettledness of this season, there are blessings, and I’m learning to focus on those, be them large or small. Just one of those blessings is joining a group of ladies (some I know and some I do not) online for Bible study.
Part of the reading yesterday came from Acts 16 . . .
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. 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. 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. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'” Acts 16:25-30
This is not an unpopular passage of scripture. I’ve lost track of the number of messages and sermons I’ve heard preached on the subject, and with few exceptions, these usually focus on the “suddenly”. And rightfully so. God can do so much suddenly in our lives.
As I was thinking about these verses in the early hours of this morning, I was struck with the before the suddenly. It’s not that this hasn’t also been taught, but take a minute to really think about what is happening here. Paul and Silas are in prison . . . in chains. And vs. 25 says they were praying and singing hymns. I have to wonder what I would be doing in such a moment. I think it’s more likely I’d be lamenting my circumstances than singing hymns. I might be praying, but it wouldn’t be powerful prayers of praise. It probably wouldn’t be something others would want to listen to.
As I pondered all of this I realized that, right now, we are very much in a situation where we are in imprisoned. Not in a literal prison, but in a very real sense we are imprisoned by a disease, a virus, that seems to be holding the world hostage. And I realized one of two things can happen in this.
I can praise the problem . . . I can complain. I can WORRY and be ANXIOUS and AFRAID. I can get annoyed at the interruptions in my life, the missing of the routine, the having to homeschool, the constant togetherness . . .
I can praise the Problem Solver . . . I can turn it all over to Jesus. I can choose to do as it says in Philippians 4:6 and “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.
This isn’t a denial of reality. I think sometimes Christians deny the reality they are standing in thinking that’s faith. Paul and Silas didn’t deny reality. They just chose to praise in that reality. The reality is we are facing a very serious, very sobering situation. And the time in which we are currently living is a heavy, heavy time. In Philippians 1:9 Paul says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment“. Y’all, knowledge and discernment are not unimportant in these times. We need to stay informed. We need to have wisdom and discernment. And that means, that things in our lives, in our normal, daily way of living, look vastly different right now. It means we respect what we’re being asked to do by those making the decisions. It means rather than disparaging them, we pray for them.
BUT we do it all while praising the Problem Solver. We do it all while praising Jesus.
If you read just a bit further in the passage, you see that the jail keeper and his family were saved. Had Paul and Silas chosen not to praise . . . had the suddenly, that I firmly believe was a result of that praise, never happened . . . the jail keeper may not have come to Christ. In these times, as Christians, we need to be leading the charge. Yes, we need to be honest and vulnerable and real, but we also need to be a light in a very dark world. We need to show the world what it means to seek God, to trust Him, and rest in Him in these very troubled times.
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