A Song from Within – (A Scripture Narrative)

All was quiet and discouragingly dark. Every tiny sound was amplified, times ten, by such an eerie stillness.

The slow but steady ‘drip, drip, drip’ overhead caused a little trickle of a stream to run in the one corner of the prison cell. The air was musty and damp, for not a breath of fresh air had passed through these walls since they had been put together.

The prisoners, their feet held firmly in stocks, shifted uncomfortably on the cold floor, trying to find a better sitting position. No such luck. Though the drying blood had started to close their wounds, the skin was still raw and stripped from the recent whipping, making every move painful. Their bedding was little more than a few straggles of straw left from the many other prisoners, who had also found it their misfortune to have a prolonged stay in this dank room far from the sunlight.

There was a quick, scurrying sound and Paul and Silas knew they were not alone. Such grime. Such filth. And they, who had once been high leading officials and responsible workers, had been thrown here with no more thought than if they’d been a pile of fish bones.

Such treatment could certainly cause one to wonder if it was really worth it. What difference were they really making? Were they just causing more trouble than anything else? All they had done was preach the gospel and look where it had landed them. Why was it so hard? Was God really worth it?

I don’t really know what all went through their minds that night, but I do know that at midnight, their thoughts turned toward God. Saul and Silas prayed…out loud…(Acts 16:24 says that the other prisoners could hear them.) Perhaps they asked for strength to endure the trials. Perhaps they asked the Lord to remind them of how Jesus had promised that those who persecuted Him, would also persecute them. Perhaps they questioned and wondered how He could be working. Perhaps they admitted their fears, their lack of faith, their need for comfort. I don’t know, but whatever those prayers may have consisted of, I do know that it resulted in an attitude of submission.

The prayers ceased and silence once more filled the air.

Then…

…from deep within the dungeon, where only cries from the lost and forgotten could be heard, there now came, from the heart of a man who had found God to be enough, a deep, lusty, off-pitch voice singing.  “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3)

The voice became more confident and it filled the small cell, causing Silas to chuckle and he joined in too; his voice only adding to the already off-tune melody. It didn’t matter that neither one of them could sing. Their hearts were uplifted and drawn to God as the words to their song filled them with renewed strength. “In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” (Psalm 95:4-7a.)

Yes, they had a reason to hope. They had a reason to joy. Their happiness didn’t lie in their circumstances, their possessions, or their relationships. God was at work; hearts would be drawn and lives would be changed. That was reason enough to rest in how God had chosen to lead them. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” They had a firm grasp on God’s grace, the strength of His Holy Spirit and of the joys that were to come.

I can’t help but imagine the delight that must have lit that dark cell as Paul and Silas sang one final song. “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9)

God didn’t promise a trouble free life for his followers. However, God did promise a peace that passes understanding for those who turned to him in prayer and thanksgiving. (Phil. 4)

Joy and peace are possible in the midst of trouble, but not if I choose to focus on the trial and ignore God. Often I just need to take my eyes off of the trial and turn my gaze instead to the great God who has given me the gifts of prayer and song; reminding myself that He is mightier than whatever circumstances I may be experiencing.

O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art 
(Carl Boberg)

 

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