Praise Through the Shaking

Acts 16:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed

OK so imagine this; You are living out your purpose and following God’s will for you then suddenly you find yourself in the darkest period of your life.  Here we find Paul, traveling with his friend Silas and they are doing what they love, preaching the Gospel of Christ, declaring His great works, and casting out daemons (you know, having so much fun).  Only not everyone was happy with Paul’s lifestyle, (when people are changed not everyone is OK with that).  In this case it cut into some people’s wallet.  That caused Paul to find himself behind bars; locked up at midnight.  Many people would break down, lash out in anger or crumble under the disappointment.  Not Paul, he and Silas started praying and singing to God.  Let me clarify that; they were already praying and singing (that is a message in itself).  Now what happened after that was an absolute miracle and honestly, it’s a miracle that is rather famous and well know by many.

However, there is a little nugget that I found in this familiar text which really pricked my heart today.  Paul and Silas were lifting praises to the Lord in their time of suffering, then the text says Suddenly there was a great earthquake.  So, let me get this straight.  Paul and Silas were preaching Jesus and teaching numerous cities with great impact.  So much so verse 5 says So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.  The then found a possessed young girl and Paul cast out the demon in her and they were imprisoned.  With all of that happening to them their first action is to pray and sing to God.  Then, a great earthquake.

My problem here is the realization that we often skip over the fact there was an earthquake.  Now I’m not a Californian, and even though I lived there for a few years, I have never experienced a significant earthquake.  But if you can imagine the entire earth below your feet violently shaking, so much so that the foundation that you are counting on to hold you and everything around you up begins to physically break before your eyes.  The rumbling on its own has to be absolutely terrifying; a shaking ground so much so that you are unable to keep your balance and you literally hold on for dear life. 

Now I know that Paul was probably praying and singing out of habit because “Praise is what he do.”  But there had to be some of him that was taking this action because he believed that God would step in and save, he and Silas from this Jail (bondage experience).  Yet instead, he had to hold on literally for his life.  This tells me that when we are trusting God to move on our behalf, we must be able to praise Him through the shaking.  Just when we believe that we are at our wits end, when we think it cannot get any worse….here comes the shaking (there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken).  The earthquake that destroys, it tears down walls; it crumbles worldly foundations, and it impacts not just you but many of the people closest to you.  But it was the earthquake that also brought forth the breakthrough, literally opening closed doors and breaking chains of bondage (and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were loosed). 

Praise on through the great shaking in your life.  Paul had already experienced God’s Love and Favor many times; remember he had been beaten, stoned and even run out of town (for the Gospel’s sake).  He believed in God and knew that regardless of what was coming, the Lord would deliver he and Silas.  He was not afraid, nor was he panicking; he was trusting. 

That trust allowed him to remain focused, and at peace (Isa 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You).  The trust was in the precious work of Jesus on the Cross.  He knew that because God gave His only Son so that we could have all our sins forgiven, that his future was solid, even if Jesus didn’t deliver him.  Our deliverance comes with a little shaking; Jesus died on the cross so that we could all be delivered with His salvation (Jesus’ entire life was vigorously shaken).  From all of the this, I just want you to remember, after the shaking, you WILL walk through open doors and be FREE from your chains.

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