Turning Worry Into Faith
Acts 16: 22-26 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn't escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! (NLT)
Can you imagine the scene? We read our Bibles sometimes as if it merely contains quaint stories for us to consider. The reality is that a great portion of the Bible is actual history. It relates events that actually occurred in history. When we read the events in the Book of Acts, we need to keep this reality in mind. Paul and Silas were being harassed by a slave girl who was demon possessed. She kept following them declaring who they were. The Bible says that Paul got exasperated and ordered the demon out of the girl. Her owners were quite unhappy because without the demon, the girl could no longer tell fortunes and they stood to lose a considerable amount of money. The owners dragged Paul and Silas before the city officials and trumped up charges against them. This is where we find our key verses today. There are several truths contained in these verses for us to consider.
The verses tell us that Paul and Silas were stripped of their clothes and severely beaten with wooden rods. Humiliated and beaten. Life will often do this to us as well. Even for doing the right thing. Paul and Silas were not "wrong" in this situation, yet they still find themselves as unfair victims. This is a reality God has warned us about:
In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5: 45 (NLT)
We do the right thing because it is right, not because we think it will
exempt us from tribulation. Paul and Silas are not only beaten to within an
inch of their lives but they are then imprisoned under the harshest of
treatments. They are placed in the inner dungeon with their feet secured in
stocks. Again we can read things like this and gloss over them but stocks were
used by the
I paint this picture to highlight that this is the state of worry in our lives. Worry beats us down, often in humiliating fashion. We can feel as if that which we constantly worry about has indeed taken wooden rods to our bodies. Worry also is imprisoning in nature. It is like cold shackles on our wrists, restraining us from freedom. It can be like unforgiving wooden stocks on our feet designed to ensure that we cannot escape the worry and to inflict ongoing pain and suffering during the worrying. The nature of worry imprisons us, inflicts pain upon us, and makes us feel beaten down in our lives. The word worry comes from the old English, " wyrgan" which means to "strangle" or "choke." That is how we end up feeling as the worry in our lives can often strangle us.
But within the key verses again we see the secret to overcoming worry in our lives. Paul and Silas certainly had plenty to worry about in this story. They were in a foreign country and have been accused by people wanting to see them dead. They were imprisoned in such a manner that the very nature of it was oppressive. There may not have seemed to be a way out for Paul and Silas. But within that tiny dungeon, shackled and beaten, they show us how to combat fear and worry. The first thing they did is they sung hymns to God.
Remember, we are in a spiritual battle. There is an enemy to our souls who seeks whom he may devour and the nature of worrying has devoured too many Christians. This is how the Bible describes the battle: