The night was dark and humid, with a sense of tension hanging heavy in the air. The judges, with their stern expressions, stood in the center of the crowd, watching with cold detachment as Paul and Silas were dragged towards them. With a sharp tug, the fabric of their clothes tore away, leaving their skin exposed and vulnerable.
The mob jeered and spat at the two men as the judges ordered a public beating. One after another, the torturers lashed their whips against Paul and Silas’s flesh, leaving angry red welts and bruises in their wake. The pain was excruciating, every blow sending waves of agony through their bodies.
After the beating, they were thrown into a damp, dark jail cell with heavy iron chains clamped onto their ankles. The guards sneered at them, relishing in their power over these helpless prisoners.
But even in the midst of their suffering, Paul and Silas refused to give in to despair. They clung to their faith, raising their voices in prayer and singing hymns to God. Their voices echoed through the cold, stone walls of the jail, filling the air with a haunting melody.
Suddenly, the ground began to shake violently, and the walls of the prison trembled. The other prisoners huddled in fear, wondering what could be happening. And then, with a deafening roar, the doors of every cell burst open, setting the prisoners free.
The jailer, who had been sleeping soundly, was jolted awake by the chaos. In a panic, he saw the open doors and assumed all the prisoners had escaped. He drew his sword, ready to take his own life rather than face the consequences of his failure.
But before he could act, Paul’s voice rang out, strong and clear. “Don’t do that! We’re all still here! Nobody’s run away!” And miraculously, every single prisoner remained in their cell, despite the opportunity to flee.
The jailer was dumbfounded, staring at Paul and Silas in amazement. He had never seen such resilience, such courage in the face of suffering. And at that moment, he knew that he had witnessed something truly extraordinary.
Our sense of shame has varied sources. You know yours, I know mine. There are things we think about, that make us feel less than we would like to feel. Shame is a complex emotion that can be triggered by a variety of factors and can have a profound impact on one’s sense of self-worth and well-being. In this story (found in Acts 16:22-28), Paul and Silas had many layers of activities that bring about shame. They were striped naked, they were publicly flogged, they were chained, and then locked up behind maximum security cells. This was a shame!
When we are feeling down and ashamed, the natural response is to complain and lament, to bemoan where our God is. How come he paid us no mind? The last thing on our minds is prayer and singing. Paul and Silas were not said to have had a revelation about thanksgiving, they seemed to burst into singing from a core of what they believed. This was not an accession to be sad, this was an opportunity to rejoice in participating in Christ’s sufferings. This is what people do when they know that things don’t happen to them, but things happen for them.
In the midst of this shocking praise service in the least conducive of environments, something extraordinary happened. A presence that could not be limited entered the prison and didn’t only deal with those who were wrongly jailed but opened every door.
I don’t know what is making you feel ashamed. Why don’t you pray and sing? Why don’t you go on a season of showing God praise and watch all the doors around you fling open? Watch all the chains give way, and watch God parade you gallantly where you were public humiliated.
You can go from shame to fame by his name. May this be your experience within the next 30 days as you align.