Acts 16:16-40; Judges 4-5; Job 35
It’s interesting what people will put up with from followers of Christ, until we affect their financial status. Paul and his companions were preaching in Philippi. While there, a slave girl, who had an evil spirit that allowed her to predict the future and earned a lot of money for her masters, began following Paul and noting that they were telling people the way to be saved. Perhaps there was a mocking tone to what she said. Perhaps she was so loud that people couldn’t hear Paul and his companions share. For whatever reason, Paul became fed up and cast the spirit out of her. That’s when the trouble started! “When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.” (Acts 16:19) Yep, the owners of this girl could put up with a lot, but now this gospel message had taken away their livelihood. They must have had some kind of influence in the city because the magistrates ordered Paul and Silas to be stripped and beaten and then thrown into jail. For most of us, that would have resulted in demands and angry calls to our attorney. For Paul and Silas it meant hymns and praise to God. God used their imprisonment to bring the jailer and his family to a relationship with Jesus. It’s amazing to me that we as Christians talk about our belief that God is in control and yet, when we face troubles or difficulties because of our faith, we immediately start lashing out. We’re angry, we want to sue, or perhaps we just want vengeance. What if, instead, we sang hymns and songs of joy in the face of difficulties or even persecution? What if we recognized that even when we go through those times, God is still in control and had a plan for us and those attacking us? Paul didn’t give up on his rights in the end of the story, but used his rights as a Roman citizen to further the kingdom of God. How can we praise God in difficult times and then, when the time is right, use our rights to show the glory of God?
Lord God, I’m quick to complain – but You know that. Help me be quick to have faith; to trust You in the face of troubles and praise You. Let me show others Your power as I praise You in the face of abuse and even persecution for my beliefs.