Joy in all of the journey
For my fifth and sixth grade Bible history class this week we went over Paul’s second missionary journey.
Remember the account of Paul at Philippi? We often heard the story in Sunday school or Christian day school, of the jailer at Philippi.
Here’s the particulars in condensed form:
As Paul was preaching and teaching in Philippi, a slave girl possessed by a demon which enabled her to tell the future decided to follow Paul around.
Anything catch your attention there?
Do demons know the future?
Think about Job chapter one. Remember how God was in heaven and Satan entered His presence and they discussed Job’s commitment to God? It is possible that as God holds meetings, demons are allowed to come and go and get in on the discussions, and therefore have a clue to God’s plans. (Just a thought, not an absolute. I’m just reading the scripture with you.)
After the girl followed Paul around for several days letting everyone know Paul was telling them about the Most High God, Paul was annoyed and cast the demon out.
And that’s when the slave girl’s owners lost their fortune, and made up lies about Paul and Silas and their mission. The city magistrates ordered Paul and Silas stripped and beaten with rods.
Stripped. In the middle of town.
Naked. Humiliated. And beaten.
From there they were transferred to the jail where their feet were put in stocks, chained.
Not comfortable. At all.
And do you know what they did?
We’re told, “25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
Humiliated and in pain, uncomfortable and in distress, they were worshiping.
I wish I could say I was that way. I tend to have a lot of the children of Israel in me. When trouble comes my way, I have a hard time not complaining. I sometimes ask God where He is and question if things weren’t better back then, you know, in Egypt.
Maybe if the attitude was joy in whatever, people would be attracted to my faith, the way the jailer rushed to Paul, fell to his knees and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
Joy in the easy times is a given. But God is worthy of more. He’s worthy of our praise in the hard times, too. The worst times. The times we don’t see a good solution.
He’s worthy because He holds the future. Demons may know the future for a time, but God holds the future. All of it. Every minute. Even now.
So if this particular season in your life is not so fun, hold on and ask God to even help you to be joyful, so
that your testimony may enlighten others in unexpected places. And if this season is a good one, well then, brighten others.