Acts 16:23-26 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
In the narrative above we see the results of Paul casting out a demon from a woman whose owner had gotten great gain from her demonic fortune telling. Paul brought change and loss to the local economy and was made to suffer, being beaten and imprisoned for it. There are many reasons why we as Christians will suffer in this life, from persecution to the simple humanity of aging, life is filled with suffering. However, there is a great truth and hope found in inviting His presence into our world through the power of worship. Nothing can break off the chains of life quicker than inviting the Lord’s presence in worship. This is as true on our darkest day, as on our finest day.
Recently, I was in a very dark place. My wife and I have been going through a long and exhausting season of trials and loss. One evening late, I was in the prison cell of self-pity. I was emotionally exhausted and despairing of continuing to fight. I got alone with the Lord and felt the strong thought arise in me to just rest and worship. I pulled out an old hymnal and began to softly sing some of my favorite old classic hymns. From the core of my being I sang, wept and cried out to God. It is hard to articulate what actually happened next, but my chains suddenly fell off as the presence of God came into the room. My situation had not changed, but my perspective changed and the grace to have the joy of His presence was full in me. My heart suddenly saw my world in a new way as I was surrounded in His love and light. The presence of God changes our perspective on life and provides the strength, love and joy we need to persevere. He is my Savior – on a daily basis.
When I look back at this situation I wonder, did my worship invite the presence of God, or did the presence of God inspire me to worship? Yes! I know that both things are true. God is always looking for each of us to say yes, to make a choice for Him. And, God is the author of every good thing. It is lifesaving to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and there is no better single way than worship. I want to encourage you to simply focus your heart on Him, honor Him for who He is and worship. He is the solution for any and every situation that confronts your world.