The quotable John Maxwell once said this: “Life can be likened to a grindstone. Whether it grinds you down or polishes you depends on what you are made of.”
Paul and Silas were made of some tough stuff! After driving the demon out of a slave girl, they find their good deed punished by being stripped, beaten, and jailed. Not exactly how the two wished to spend their weekend. Circumstances are like that. Before you know what hit you, you are knee deep in the weeds. But you don’t get to choose the circumstances of your life. There is so much going on that is beyond your control… evil people, viruses, lousy timing, and direct opposition from the enemy, as well as other factors can derail your plans. But while don’t get to choose your circumstances… but you do get to choose your attitude.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The 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. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
Now it was midnight. Let this stick in your mind. Paul and Silas have chosen their joyful attitude not after climbing out of a comfortable bed, but after having been stripped, beaten with rods, thrown into prison and flogged severely. And then they were put in stocks… you’ve seen these things. You may have your picture taken in them. They are designed not only to humiliate the person being punished but make them EXTREMELY uncomfortable. And… it was midnight. The hour when your body is tired and weary… and your worst fears plague you.
Is it midnight in your world? Maybe you’ve taken an emotional beating. You may have lost your job, your home, your dignity. You are uncomfortable. And it is midnight… so what do you do? You choose joy.
How do you do that? This duo had many bumps and bruises, but they also had three outlets for abundant joy.
1) They had each other. Are you hanging around the right people? Joyful, positive individuals that share life with you can help lift your spirits.
2) They were praying. Imagine for a moment that you’re in the mother house in Calcutta helping out the Mother Teresa‘s ministry. It’s very early in the morning, about 20 till five. A bell rings. A voice calls out “Let us bless the Lord.” Which is answered by: “Thanks be to God.”
The sisters go down to the still quietness of the chapel. Outside of the chapel, a blackboard lists people all over the world who have asked for prayers from the sisters.
They pray for half an hour kneeling on the floor. There are no seats.
What keeps their attitudes strong in the face the dying masses in Calcutta? They begin their day praising God and in prayer. In Paul’s midnight, the new day was just being birthed. He took the wee hours of the morning to pray for the strength to face what that day would bring.
3) They were singing. Yes, singing. There is something about a song that can lift the spirit. What is your radio set to? Is it uplifting ? Have you thought to incorporate hymns or songs of praise into your prayer time? It will turn your usual gripe session with the Lord into a symphony of praise to Him… and in the process help put all your woes into perspective.
You know what happens next. An earthquake hits. It was enough to rattle the nerves of even their crusty jailer. Paul and Silas could have responded with: “Great, now an earthquake? You’ve got to be kidding, God!” They didn’t. Their reaction was one of calm and respect in the midst of utter chaos. This is something that only comes to those who as a habit, pray and sing their way through life’s ups and downs.
Poor circumstances? That’s unfortunate. But poor attitude? That’s really your choice… and that grindstone in your life may just be revealing what you’re really made of.