Think about what a great time this is to praise the Lord. We are virtually locked in our homes, unable to go out and visit with family and friends. Thousands are sick with the virus. Thousands around the world have died. Many of the basic items we depend on are not in stores. Hundreds of thousands are without work. Most of us have lost close to 20% of our retirement funds. But we can still praise the Lord.
One of the events recorded in the Bible that should challenge us is found in Acts 16:16-34. The story is familiar to most of us. Paul and Silas were in Philippi where they cast a demon out of a girl. The girl’s manager was upset that she could no longer be used to earn money so in verse 19 we read, “When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.” Luke went on to record in Acts 16:22-23, “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison.” Unfortunately when we study this passage we jump ahead to the part where an earthquake opened the doors of their cell and because they did not flee the jailer, who was about to put himself to death because he thought he had lost a prisoner, asked, according to verse 30. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Their answer is one most Christians are familiar with. They said, according to verse 31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
What is too easy to skip over is verse 25 that tells us, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” Keep the setting in mind. They had just been stripped, beaten with rods and thrown into prison. And they were “praying and singing hymns to God.” Praying I can see, although we are not told what they were praying for. I would have been praying for God to get me out of the mess and I might have been praying for judgment on those who had beaten me with rods. I doubt they were praying for revenge. But they were doing more than praying they were singing hymns to God. Even if those hymns were some of the Psalms asking God to protect them and do battle for them, they also contained praise. Almost all of the Psalms and early church hymns focused on praise.
What we must not miss is that they were singing those hymns before they had any idea how God would respond. Yes, they were set free, but many over the centuries have not been freed. Many Christians over the centuries have died in prisons that they were sent to because of their faith. Paul and Silas had no reason to assume they would be set free. Still they praised God. I believe it is our praise when things are not going our way that really expresses our faith and trust in God. Let’s use some of our quarantine time to praise God, not only for all we do have, but for His love, His presence with us, His peace etc. He is always worthy of praise!
Ashley S. has asked us to pray for her and the family of a sailor who recently died. He was in her basic training. I don’t have the details, but we need to uphold them all in prayer.
Let’s continue to remember our EMS and First Responders along with doctors and nurses who are constantly exposed to potential sickness.
Let’s remember our retirement homes, Myerstown and Schoolyard Square in particular, and Steve Reiter as he seeks to keep the residents safe and happy.