Psalm 118:5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered my prayer and set me free.
In the public schools that we teach Bible lessons, we have been sharing the story of Paul and Silas. We talk about how they were sharing the gospel with everyone and how the entire city was in an uproar because of their message. They were stripped, badly beaten and tossed into prison. Not only that but they were thrown into the inner dungeon with their feet in stocks to better ensure they did not escape. It would have been cold, damp and smelly. In my mind’s eye I picture rats scurrying around, and mold on the walls. Seeing that it was an inner dungeon, there would have been no windows so it would have been dark. Paul and Silas would have been in agony from the beating they received. They would have had every reason to be afraid, worried and upset. I know I would be stressing out. I would be discouraged. I would be wallowing in worry. My mind would probably wander, dreaming up the worst case scenarios.
Yet what was their response? They prayed and sang songs in worship to God. As they lifted up their hearts in praise during a very bad situation, something miraculous happened.
Act 16:25,26 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All of the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!
I think that we can all learn something from this. I believe that like with Paul and Silas, when we choose to be thankful and choose to praise, chains can be broken. Chains of despair, loneliness, discouragement, and sadness. When we praise, the atmosphere changes. Those burdens weighing heavy upon our hearts will lessen. It may not change our situation, but it will change our outlook. He will give us peace in the midst of whatever storm we are in.
All of us struggle. We all go through things in this life that are beyond difficult. We all have moments when we want to toss in the towel and moments when we feel hopeless. But our hope is in Him. He is our strength we feel like our strength is gone and we have nothing left. And there is always something to be thankful for.
I like what Christine Caine says in her book, Unexpected. Getting into His Word and letting it get into us brings our hearts back to life. Worshipping Him opens the door for the Holy Spirt to encourage us and heal us so we can trust again. Learning how to change our perspective though steps like these helps us transition from fearing the unexpected to trusting God through it.
Psalm 30:11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing: You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Hab 3:17,18 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!