About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. – Acts 16:25 NIV
In this passage Paul and Silas had cast a fortune-telling spirit out of a young slave girl. Rather than being commended for their actions, they ended up beaten, thrown into prison and placed in stocks. If there was ever a time to be discouraged and feel bad, that would be it.
But what did they do? They did not have a pity party. Instead, they spent the night in worship, praying to God and singing hymns. And not quietly either. All of the other prisoners were listening to them. This is very much in line with what the apostles did when beaten by the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:40-41. After the beating they left “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for Jesus.”
And what an example they set for us today. In the US, we seldom really suffer for our faith. At worst we are usually only inconvenienced. But rather than complain because someone is depriving me of my “rights” as a Christian, I should rejoice. Now that doesn’t mean I should go looking for trouble. But when it comes, I should be thankful for the privilege of suffering for my Lord (Phil. 1:29).
The other significant thing about this passage, that I often overlook, concerns their fellow prisoners. They were paying attention to what was going on with Paul and Silas. While nothing is said about their reaction, I think it is safe to assume that it made an impact on many of them. Something was different about these two guys, something that would allow them to worship where others would have complained. Other people are watching my reaction to the challenges I face. Do my reactions glorify God, and draw others to him?