July 22, 2015 by holy rollin hooker
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
Paul and Silas were in prison practically awaiting their deaths. That’s about as deep in trouble as you would imagine anybody could get. However, instead of worrying, getting mad at God for not sparing them their calamity, and feeling justifiably sorry for themselves, they prayed and praised. As they did this, the other prisoners watched them. Imagine, if you will, being one of those other prisoners. I know my first impression of these guys would have been that they were cracked beyond repair. What kind of nut jobs sing songs and pray while they’re waiting to have their heads chopped off or be stoned to death or something equally horrible. Could you imagine (sane) death row inmates doing that today?
How do we respond when we are at our lowest point? Do we open our mouths in prayer and praise or in complaint and curses? When others watch us go through the toughest of times—and there are always people watching—what kind of example do they see? Do they see someone determined to dwell on the negativity or do they see a Paul/Silas whose first and only instinct is to pray and praise?
As Christians, one of our primary duties is to take care to make ourselves available to God to show us off as bright and shining examples of his grace, mercy, goodness, and generosity. For a long time, I thought that the best way for God to show me off as a good example of his presence in my life was for him to bless me with a bunch of tangible, physical stuff. I thought that if everyone could see how God had blessed me with a good job, a nice home and ride, faithful friends, and a respectable bank account that they would be more inspired by his generosity and favor in my life. Well, I currently have none of these things. I have been unemployed for more than six years, I have not a single person that I can even casually call “friend,” I had to move back home to my single mother’s house in a less than desirable neighborhood (with emphasis on the “hood”), and I don’t even have a bank account let alone money to put in it. And let me tell you, I believe that I am the best example of God’s grace, mercy, goodness, and generosity that there is. Why, you say? Because I have a deep-seeded joy that I didn’t have when I had all that stuff. I have true peace of mind and spirit. I don’t walk around all down in the dumps because I got rejected from yet another position. The people around me don’t see me wearing my current troubles on my face. I smile, I laugh, I sing (off key), I dance (badly, but rhythmically), I bake cupcakes, and pet my cat. And I don’t do a single bit of it under my own power.
Am I always happy? Psh…would you be if you were me? Of course I’m not always happy; neither will you be, and it’s okay if others see that side of you. That whole “never let ‘em see you sweat” thing is a load of booboo. But they should also be seeing a side of you that seeks after God and that loves and trusts him no matter what. They should see you talking to him (preferably not shouting and shaking your fist in a curmudgeonly manner), praising him, and singing songs and quoting scriptures that remind you and him of just what a great god he is. Sooner or later, they’ll see all that tangible stuff come along as well, but what they’ll remember is the way you behaved when that stuff was nowhere in sight.