Praise comes before provision


We have been doing a deep dive into a story involving Paul and Silas.

These guys had been locked up in prison. We don’t know who started it that night. Maybe one of them leaned over to the other and said, “Well, this is bad, but we’re not dead, and if we’re not dead, we’re not done.” Then they started to sing. Here is what happened next …

“About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” —Acts 16:25 (NIV)

These guys were praying, praising and singing hymns to God, even though they were still locked up in prison. God had not delivered them. There was no miraculous provision. No miracle had taken place.

Paul and Silas were not praising God for what he had done. Their praise came before their provision. They weren’t praising God for what they had seen. They weren’t praising God for what he had done. Instead, they were choosing to praise God for who he is.

God is about to show up in the middle of their praise. He is about to shake their prison cell with an earthquake. The doors are going to swing wide open, and their chains are going to fall to the ground.

But that is not what happened when Paul was in prison previously. And that is why this story is so profound. In Philippians 4, Paul even challenged us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He seems to be saying God has the power to deliver, but even if he doesn’t, we can still choose to praise.

I doubt Paul and Silas felt like praising God that night. How could they? These men were beaten, bruised and bleeding. They had been separated from family and friends. They are in prison. Praising God was a choice they had to make.

It is a choice we can all make if we are willing. By singing praises at the midnight hour, Paul and Silas were saying, “God, You’re good. We trust you. You are in control. We know we can always count on you. You are the God who provides.”

I’m not saying praise always makes your anxiety go away. It may and it may not. But an intentional act of praise can change your outlook on dismal circumstances. It helps when we remember as believers that our present difficulties are not here to stay. That is what allowed Paul to refer to his trials as “light and momentary.” He knew he was just passing through.

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