Sometimes your tough times aren’t about you.
In Acts 16:23-38 Paul and Silas were preaching the gospel in Philippi, then a slave girl who was possessed started shouting out. Paul then commands the evil to spirit to leave her. The slave girl’s masters seeing that their source of profit in the possessed girl was gone grabbed Paul and Silas and took them to the authorities. They accused the apostles of teaching unlawful customs, and so the magistrates commanded them to be beaten and put into prison and gave the jailer a specific command to keep them securely.
Paul and Silas had been beaten up, their wounds were still sore and tender, in an uncomfortable cold prison cell. If ever there was a time where you would be justified to be sorrowful and moaning, it was that moment, they had just suffered extreme torture & humiliation, unlawfully at that! But instead they were singing and praising God.
Why? Well, it was because of their perspective. To anyone else looking from the outside, they were justified to be moaning and groaning, or at the very least making known the pain and discomfort. But to them they saw it as being found worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake and so they encouraged each other with songs.
What point of view do you look at the situation you are going through?
We all have things we deal with that are tough, because life happens. It may not be persecution or extreme torture like in this case. Your situation may be your personal struggles, family issues, challenges at uni, work, friends, and so on. We need to approach these challenges with the same attitude Paul and Silas had. An attitude of praise and thanksgiving – even when you can’t think of anything to thank Him for, thank Him in advance. Approach your difficult situations with a positive attitude.
Because it is not about you.
In that prison cell the singing was heard by others, the prisoners, the guards, the jailer they all heard the singing. Paul and Silas’ reaction to their situation was testimony to the living God they served and the trust they had in God. Therefore they had a peace and a comfort that didn’t make sense to anyone else.
The attitude in which you face trail is a testimony of the kind of God you serve.
God came through for Paul and Silas. There was an earthquake and the prison doors were open and the chains came of. The jailer, waking from his sleep, sees the prison doors open and thinks the only logical thing has happened – that the prisoners have escaped! And because he was given specific instructions to keep them securely he thought it would be better kill himself now, because when the authorities find out they will kill him. But as he pulls out his sword, Paul tells him not to kill himself because they were all still there.
The jailer then asks “What must I do to be saved?” It wasn’t because of the earthquake and the miracle of the prisoners being freed, it was because he desired to have the peace and cheerfulness shown by the apostles under suffering and abuse. The jailer saw that peace and he wanted it. He had seen the state the apostles were in when they came in all beaten up, swollen and bleeding. He knew that they were in pain and uncomfortable but they were singing. How they had reacted to the difficult situation led the jailer to make a decision for Jesus. The jailer and his family were baptised that night.
So sometimes you might be tempted to just be in your bubble of misery and have a “woe is me” attitude or complain and moan about the things you are going through. However, there are other people watching and looking at your situation, to see how you will come through in the end. Some are cheering you on, some are not, but either way how you approach the situation/trial/struggle is a testimony about the God you serve.
So it is not about you.
Later on we read how the apostles, who had been publicly imprisoned, refused to be privately released. Paul wanted the demonstration of the power of God to be known. Don’t conceal what God has done for you, let it be made known publicly, tweet it, post it, shout it from the rooftop. Because it is not about you.
So let’s praise Him in whatever circumstance we are in. Our attitude in difficult circumstances demonstrates to the others kind of God we serve.