Dealing with Suffering & Hardships
As we have been going through the book of Colossians on Sunday mornings the issue of suffering continues to surface. In Colossians, Paul talks about the privilege of suffering for Christ in light of the suffering that Christ endured on his behalf. Paul endured many hardships as he took the Gospel to the Gentile world. This passage in Acts gives us a great example to follow when we face suffering for any reason and encourages us to believe that God is in control no matter what.
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
No investigation, no hearing, no opportunity to defend themselves - they are stripped and beaten severely. It was actually illegal because they hadn’t been convicted. Then the jailer puts them in the inner cell - reserved for the most dangerous prisoners and then he puts their feet in stocks. So they are severely beaten and put in chains – but how do they respond?
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
They respond by worshipping God – praying & singing hymns to God. No pity party, no complaining – not focused on their circumstances. Instead they turn their focus to God.
…and the other prisoners were listening to them.
How we respond to adversity is so important. People will watch to see how you respond. It’s easy to have the right attitude when things are good. Where is your focus when hardship & pain come into your life? Others notice – God also notices when we respond by turning our eyes upon Him.
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, & everyone’s chains came loose.
The heart of God was moved by their worship! He may not take the pain or suffering away but He will respond. He will give you peace and other times He may do something else in addition. In this case He chose to respond in a very dramatic and powerful way
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!”
Rather than face the humility of public execution – he was going to kill himself but Paul stopped him – We’re all here! This jailer had treated them so harshly – had no compassion. Paul didn’t say – He deserves to die – Serves him right - instead he reaches out to him with the love of God.
God gives us these opportunities all the time. In life you will be treated unfairly - rude – uncaring – disrespectful. How do you respond? These are opportunities to show the love of God. Look at the impact it had on the jailer
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?”
He saw how they responded to being whipped and chained. He saw how their God responded. And then it became personal when he was treated with compassion. It touched his heart and he was moved by the Holy Spirit to respond.
He had probably heard the message but it meant nothing without this display of love. He had hardened his heart but now he knew it was real - What must I do to be saved?
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved —you and your household.”
Believe in – have faith in the Lord Jesus and God will save you!
32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
His faith didn’t save his family – they had to decide for themselves. They shared more about God’s incredible grace with his family
33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
They accept the message and are transformed - They are immediately baptized. They couldn’t wait to get in that water – to be identified w/ Christ!
This hardened jailer who just hours earlier had no compassion was now filled with love and compassion. That’s what repentance looks like.