Focus – Brian Carr
There are so many stories in the Bible that epitomize what the people of God should look like. Moses represents what it looks like to be a leader. Abraham shows us all what it looks like to be obedient even when we question what God is doing. Job is the essence of perseverance. And during difficult times, Paul and Silas show us what it can look like to be encouragers.
In Acts 16, we read about Paul and Silas traveling to spread the Gospel. After freeing a woman possessed by a spirit, the authorities grew angry with the men and threw them in jail. Crowds joined in the attack against these men and they were stripped, beaten, flogged, and thrown in prison. From here we pick up the story in Acts.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The 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. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” Acts 16:25-34
What an encouragement! Despite the difficult time these men faced, Paul and Silas didn’t complain. They didn’t run. They didn’t succumb to fear. In fact, they did the exact opposite. Scripture tells us “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” They even went on to take this as an opportunity to show compassion and witness to another during this hard time.
There is no question we too are living in a difficult time. Being quarantined from family and friends can take a toll on us all, however, I encourage us to take note of how we, the church, should act in a time of crises. Let us follow the lead of Paul and Silas and encourage one another, both believers and non-believers alike. If we want to ‘be the church’ then we must start ‘acting like the church’, especially when our faith is tested in the face of fear. No one can deny what a nasty disease COVID-19 is and the affect it is has on this world. But I think it’s important to remember this is a disease that attacks our lungs, not our heart. In the movie Patch Adams, Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams makes a passionate plea before a medical review board to defend how he cares for the sick. After a brief back-and-fourth dialog during his review, he states, “You treat a disease, you win, you lose–you treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” Folks, this is a time for us to take our eyes off the disease and focus our attention back on people. How pleased would God be to see His children step up and show our community why the church is different. It’s time. The world is watching.
Pray: Reflect on how you can turn fear and anxiety into encouragement. Pray that God can work through you to help others be encouraged and hopeful.
Action: Encourage others during this storm. Share with them the confidence you have in God’s promises to help understand your faith.
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