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My absolute favorite hymn is “And Can it Be.” I know that’s a weird name for a song, but it is filled with such a rich message that I love it. One of the verses says:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me?

Whenever I sing this song, I think of the Apostle Paul’s experience while imprisoned in Philippi. Details of what happened can be found in the book of Acts in chapter 16. It says:

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.”

My husband and I had the privilege of visiting Philippi over Energy Break. At the archeological site, the place where they believe the prison to have been located during Paul’s time was marked. It was a small, dark, damp cell. To think that Paul and Silas had been badly beaten and then thrown in there, and yet instead of screaming and complaining, they were encouraging each other and singing praises to God.

How often do we base our feelings on our experiences? If things are going well for us, then we are happy. We have good days and bad days, and our emotions go up and down. What the Apostle Paul realized is that it is essential to keep our eyes focused on the ultimate goal. He was able to look at things from a divine perspective. He was able to give thanks even while being tortured because he counted it a privilege to suffer for his Lord. He learned to focus on God’s power to be there for him in every situation and to rely on God’s power when he did not have the human strength to carry on.

Now, God hasn’t asked me to suffer for him in prison, as He did with Paul. He has simply asked me to be faithful to that which He has called me. It is my heart’s desire to acknowledge each day that it is because of God’s love and salvation that I can sing:

My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director