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Jesus is worth it!
Missy Martens
by Missy Martens
May 13, 2024

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).

That’s nice, isn’t it? A neat little story about a couple of followers of Jesus singing some kumbayas to God … in jail. Wait, what? Oh, I think we need to keep reading.

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

They were singing in prison?! Huh. Here’s the backstory: Paul and Silas were on a mission trip, spreading the good news about the risen and ascended Savior. While in the city of Philippi, they were arrested by the Romans on shady charges. Their crime? Casting out an evil spirit from a slave girl (which made her owners mad since they used her “talents” for making money). Paul and Silas were thrown into jail, but not until they had been stripped and severely flogged and beaten. The jailer then put them in the innermost cell (which, my Bible note tells me, was used not only for extra security but also for torture) and fastened their feet in the stocks. And this is where we find them at midnight, singing and praying to God.

Something doesn’t add up, right? A miracle was about to happen, a tremendous jail breakout and divine intervention you’ll have to read about in Acts 16, but Paul and Silas didn’t know that. For all they knew, this was the end, not only of their missionary journey but also of their lives. And yet they praised their God from the prison cell.

They must have been amazing Christians, right? Well, actually, this wasn’t even unique to Paul and Silas. We read earlier in the book of Acts about many of the apostles being persecuted and yet praising and rejoicing during it all: 

They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. (5:40-42)

What craziness is this—to praise and sing and never stop proclaiming the good news even in the midst of extreme pain and suffering? Even after tragedy? Even from a prison cell? Somehow in their eyes, it was entirely worth it. Following Jesus is worth it. Praising him is worth it. Enduring suffering for the sake of his name is worth it. Living for him, although it is not easy, is worth it.

We can praise from the bottom because we have a worthy God at the top.

Years before Jesus walked the earth, King David knew this too. He had his share of family and kingly troubles, tragedy, and sorrow, which he freely shared in many psalms. He also wrote Psalm 103, and it almost seems like he’s trying to remind himself of why he should continue to praise God.

 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (verses 2-5)

Sometimes it seems like our whole lives are one big pit full of mud and muck, pulling us under. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like God is satisfying our desires with good things or healing all our diseases. It can be very easy to forget all his benefits and very hard to praise God through pain and hardships. David knew that. Paul knew that. And Peter reminds us as well:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Peter, who endured his share of suffering for Jesus, who saw many of his closest friends die for Jesus, who himself would give up his life for Jesus, knew that God was still worthy of praise, even from the pit. He reminds us that this world and this pain is only for a little while. But because of Jesus’ great mercy and love, we have a living hope in a new world without any suffering or pain. And when we realize this, the natural result is praise, glory, and honor. It was natural for Paul and Silas to sing hymns from prison. It was a natural outpouring for King David as well, despite all the hardship he went through. We too can praise from the pit when we remember the benefits we already have as children of God. And you never know who is listening and who might be saved from their prisons because they see you praising God from yours. Keep praising from the bottom. We’ve got a worthy God at the top.