My brothers and I were on America’s Got Talent a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t make it to the next round, but it was an incredible experience! It’s easy to make excuses about why we didn’t go through. It’s easy for me to get upset or angry about the situation. It’s easy to ask God, “Why did we put in so much work and time, only to have it gone in a second?” Rejection sucks, especially for a people-pleaser like myself, but the text in Acts 16 is a great reminder.
I’m not comparing our experience to that of Paul and Silas, but I do believe that Paul and Silas were faced with a choice. They knew that rejection was a very real option. If they choose not to cast out the demon in the name of Jesus, they don’t face the consequences or the persecution. But they do it anyway.
We begin to see how serious these consequences are in verse 22: “The chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.” They were struck many times, thrown in the inner prison, their feet fastened in stocks and guarded securely.
Talk about persecution!
These two men have another choice. They can get angry at God, turn their back on him and wonder why he wouldn’t protect them. Or they can fix their eyes and cry out to him. They are in a situation where their only hope is a miracle. “But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (v. 25).
Praise?! The fact that they could praise God in this situation takes an unbelievable amount of faith, and to me, this is the most amazing part of this story. Could you imagine being there? What would you have said if you were one of the other prisoners listening to them?
As we see, a massive earthquake opens all the doors and breaks every chain. The jailer falls before Paul and Silas, and we see that he and his entire family get baptized and believe in Jesus.
When you are in a situation that seems hopeless, how do you respond? When people reject you and tell you that you are not good enough, do you give up? Or worse, if you are beaten and face intense persecution like Paul and Silas, do you praise God? Do you sing hymns in the middle of the night after you have been thrown in prison?
The faith of Paul and Silas is inspiring, and I pray that if and when I am in a worse situation than the mere rejection I faced, I will turn to God and sing songs of praise!
Cayd – Worship Arts Emerging Associate, lead singer of New Law, fantastic son, brother and friend