Sometimes we can think miracles are for other people. It’s hard to conceive that they may become our experience.
We define a miracle as something in the context of an impossibility, something we are unable to accomplish apart from the intervention of an All-Powerful, Almighty God.
I think miracles can come in all shapes and sizes, with some more readily observed than others, as is the case of Acts 16:6-40 .
Paul and his companions were traveling along their missionary journey, spreading the gospel everywhere they went. At one point, they came across a slave girl who was being used to make money as a fortune-teller. She followed Paul around for days, interfering and causing such a ruckus that Paul finally cast out the spirit within her. At that moment, the spirit left her and she was no longer able to predict the future.
This enraged her owners so much that they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They were brought before the magistrate, accused of inciting the city into an uproar. The crowd joined in on the attack as the magistrate ordered them stripped and beaten.
After they had been “severely flogged”, they were thrown into prison where the jailer was told to guard them carefully. He placed them in the inner cell, fastening their feet with shackles.
And there they sat……waiting.
Paul and Silas were waiting for what only God could do. Left to themselves, there was no hope for deliverance from what seemed unjust, much less unexpected.
You see, Paul had been given the vision to direct him to Macedonia. He did not go there of his own accord. He understood the Lord had given him guidance to go there. So why had it turned out so bad?
I bet some of you know that feeling. I know I have in the past.
You do what you think is right, what may even be sacrificial, only to receive grief in the process. You feel God guided you in His will yet it has not turned out anything close to what you thought it would be. In fact, it may even be AWFUL!
And there you sit…….waiting.
I think there is a priceless lesson to learn from Paul and Silas’ choice as they waited. They may have been helpless in their situation, but they weren’t hopeless. And that made all the difference in how they decided to wait for their miraculous need.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25
Now THAT is not the typical response from prisoners after suffering a severe flogging and imprisonment! But that is exactly the way Paul and Silas chose to respond.
They had no ability to change their situation but they still had choices.
Hebrews 13:15 explains,
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
As they were waiting for their miracle, they actually performed something miraculous of their own- a sacrifice of praise. That, my friends, is nothing short of supernatural!
When God’s people choose in their helpless, desperate state to praise His Name, contrary to their circumstances, that reverberates through more than just iron doors. It strikes a cord in the heart of others.
Who is listening to you as you wait for your miracle?
I remember back in 2013 when our family was waiting for a couple of miracles of our own, it felt like my personality was beginning to change. I am usually an upbeat, positive person, but I was beginning to become pessimistic, even cynical. It felt as though I was slipping into a state of despair because my “wait” was unexpected, unfair, and seemingly unending.It occurred to me that not only was God observing how I testified during my trials, others were as well. Click To Tweet
I was either going to bring glory to God as I suffered well or I was going to miss an eternally significant opportunity by grumbling and complaining, wasting my sacrifice of praise. It was MY MOMENT for a supernatural work of the Spirit to bring about a MIRACULOUS response in light of the desperation I felt.
And isn’t that the definition of a miracle stated earlier? An impossibility apart from the work of an All-Powerful God? What other explanation could exist for people to praise their God in the midst of suffering or unbearable need?Maybe we need to open our eyes to the miracles God can do IN us and not just the ones we want Him to do FOR us. Click To Tweet
The Miracle That Multiplied
Paul and Silas were soon freed from their impossible situation. But I would say that was the second miracle of the night.
26 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. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
As Paul and Silas offered their sacrifice of praise, when it was anything but easy or reasonable to worship and glorify the Lord, it made an eternal impact on those listening, including the jailer. As the earthquake opened the doors/chains, it set in motion saving grace. The jailer had fully expected the prisoners to flee which would have meant his certain death from failing in his duties.
The astonishing deliverance was the most obvious and often sought-after miracle of the night but it wasn’t the first. The miracle of choosing to praise set in motion the next miracle of all the prisoners remaining, which led to the salvation of an entire family. This supernatural momentum continues to this day.
I didn’t know who was watching me as I struggled long and hard but I understood what was at stake. I chose to change my attitude by starting a gratitude journal in an effort to initiate more praise from my heart. And you know what? I can testify of the miracle that took place.
I began to cease fighting my “prison”, yielding instead to the will of my Father whose ways I did not understand. This happened as I staked everything on the fact that He was Infinitely Good and I was infinitely loved.
And it was then that I began to sing……..