Praising God in the Storm
By Rev. ‘Debo Onabanjo
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” – Acts 16:25
Have you ever been punished for doing what is right or for doing your job? I recall a time while still living in Lagos, Nigeria, when I was almost unjustly punished because I chose to enforce the rules of the private gated community where I worked as a Facilities Manager. The rich member of the community was not happy with my action and decided to use his influence to teach me a lesson. He arranged for me to be invited for questioning by the Police with the plan for them to arrest and lock me up for the night.
As I was being processed prior to being locked up, I kept on praying and asking God to intervene. I was shocked when I started hearing praise songs coming from the section where those locked up were kept. Even though I realized that most of them were hardened criminals, I was pleasantly surprised that they were singing songs of praise to the Lord. By divine intervention, I did not end up spending the night in jail.
As I reflect on this experience, it reminded me of when Paul and Silas were arrested for doing the Lord’s work while on mission in Philippi. They were severely flogged by the authorities, and the jailer was instructed to put them in the innermost cell and fasten their feet in stocks. Paul and Silas had every reason to be angry and bitter with God, perhaps for abandoning them.
Have you ever been angry with God for not coming through for you in a time of need? Paul and Silas trusted in the Lord. They chose to pray and sing hymns to God, and this was a powerful witness to the unbelieving prisoners at the jail. The Psalmist tells us that God is our very present help in times of trouble so we can be still. God showed up for Paul and Silas just as God did for me.
As we respond as believers to the challenges of the Corona virus pandemic, what is our witness like? Are we letting our unbelieving neighbors and friends see Christ, the hope of glory in us? We can be like Paul and Silas in this season, by choosing to pray and sing hymns — not only to encourage ourselves that our God is always near and powerful, but to witness to those who do not yet believe. We all can pray and we all can sing – let us make a joyful noise to the Lord for the Lord is good all the time.
“God is with us, God is with us,
So our brave forefathers sang,
Far across the field of battle
Loud their holy war-cry rang;
Never once they feared nor faltered,
Never once they ceased to sing:
God is with us, God is with us,
Christ our Lord shall reign as King!
(Walter John Mathams, 1853-1931)
Thank you Lord, that I am never alone. Help me to put on the full armor of God so that I can take my stand unafraid against the enemy. Help me to pray without ceasing and sing songs of victory in the conquering name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
What hymns or songs come to mind as you reflect on the challenges occasioned by the current COVID-19 pandemic?
Comment below or use a journal to record how God is with you each day of this journey.