Activating God in the midst of persecution
We've covered what persecution is and shared stories about what types of persecution we face. This week we start doing something about our persecution. We'll look into a jailing that led to a jailbreak.
Persecution Is A Prison
I've never been there myself, but being in jail must be a pretty miserable thing. You are forcibly removed from everything and everyone you've known and put into a dangerous, confining and oppressive environment. Now imagine that you didn't do anything to truly deserve imprisonment.
That's where Paul and Silas found themselves after being wrongfully accused (Acts 16:16-40). They had only acted according to God's will and gotten beaten and thrown in jail for it. A lot of people would have given up and thrown the towel in on that one. Not Paul and Silas, though. They were souled out to God and took it as a blessing to find themselves in such a predicament. They knew that when the stakes were raised, that let God shine brighter.
When we are persecuted, life can start to feel like a prison. We feel limited and hindered physically, emotionally and spiritually. We aren't able to operate regularly in our regular every day lives. When we go to church, the feeling of persecution seems to linger over us. Even when we are at home, there doesn't seem to be peace from the enemy of persecution. There is only one solution. One way to break out.
Overcoming Through Prayer and Persistence
In this story, Paul and Silas started praying and praising (v. 24). God reacted to his persecuted follower's prayers by operating both in the temporal and the spiritual. He caused an earthquake (temporal) and he unloosed all their chains and opened the doors (spiritual) (v.26). When God operates in the lives of those who sacrifice for him and pay the price with persecution, he does so in both the physical and the spiritual.
When you are being bullied at school or work for the way you look and believe, know that God can and will move to help you in both the physical and spiritual realm. He can cause that persecutor to leave jobs/schools. In my case, I was bullied throughout 5th grade by a boy. He would torment me every class period and came up with new ways to torture me each day for a full year. I lamented this bullying the whole year and prayed for deliverance. Finally, I just started praising and believing God was going to bring me out somehow. God wasn't going to leave me to suffer. During the summer between 5th and 6th grade, he was sent away to live with another relative and I never had to deal with him again. The persecution I faced helped me to see God more clearly once I was delivered and it helped me to relate to others because I didn't want to make them feel the way I did. That's a spiritual blessing.
Whatever persecution you are facing, God is going to make a way for us both in the temporal and the spiritual. We just have to do what Paul and Silas did. Pray and praise through the trials and tribulations. In the end, God will shake all the earth if He has to and he'll loosen every chain of persecution that binds you and open every door of hinderance that blocks you.
Whatever you are facing right now, don't worry about the pain and torture it is causing.
Give God praise and honor for who He is and what He is doing in your life.
Believe on Him that He can and will deliver you in His time.
Watch as God moves heaven and earth and breaks every chain and opens every door.
Next week, we look at what Paul and Silas did after they broke out of jail, and what that means for us.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.