Butterfly photo by Theirry-Chabot
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25, NIV)
Imagine if you were trapped in a prison with no obvious way to escape. How would you respond? Regarding the context of the verse above, Paul and Silas had been preaching and teaching about Jesus as the way of salvation in Philippi when they were arrested, beaten, and put in the local prison. This would have been a deep dark dungeon in dangerous conditions under strict supervision. The extremely rough situation would have driven an average self-focused person to despair and hopelessness. But Paul and Silas were no “average” men—they belonged to Jesus and knew beyond a doubt that God would care for them according to His purposes. They knew that even while they were trapped in a prison, they were truly free in Jesus! That is why they could still worship God and sing praises to Him.
Some years ago, 33 miners also found themselves trapped in a kind of prison. However, this “prison” was a deep mine in the nation of Chile. The life shaft of the mine from the surface had been blocked by falling rock with no obvious way for the miners to escape. They endured this for 69 days. A small shaft hole was drilled which allowed rescuers to drop food and water to them. This action kept them alive but there was still no way of escape in the early days of their entrapment. Jose Hendriquez was one of the 33 miners. Refusing to give up, Jose prayed to God and then asked for 33 Bibles to be sent down the small narrow shaft. He led a Bible study with the miners twice a day and 20 of them asked Jesus to come into their hearts and deliver them spiritually and physically! After 69 days, they were all rescued. It took just one man devoted to Jesus to inspire irrepressible hope in the weary men. The hope of this one man motivated them to put their true faith in Jesus. They could now live in real freedom regardless of the traps or trials in their future days. These rescued men later travelled to several nations, sharing their amazing story entitled “The 34th Man” – referring to Jesus as the 34th One who really set them free!
- Next Steps:
- Imagine yourself in a dark dungeon with Paul and Silas or deep in a mine with no discernible way out. How would you respond? Now, think of various situations in which you may feel trapped, helpless, or hopeless? Will you rest in and look totally to Jesus today so you can experience His freedom regardless of your circumstances?
- Secondly, determine the strength of your faith and love relationship with Jesus. If you ever felt “trapped” in a life- threatening situation, could you still rejoice in Jesus?
- There’s an old saying about 2 men looking out of a prison window – one saw bars and the other saw stars. What would you see?