Read Acts 16:11-40
Paul and Silas were guilty of spreading the truth about life through Jesus Christ. They set a slave-girl free from a tormenting demon (who also happened to be annoying Paul), thus spreading Jesus’ Good News by virtue of a miracle. They also used words to spread the news of real life.
That’s what got them arrested. Telling the truth about Jesus Christ and the life He came to give. The kind of life that lives unbound by fear or anxiety,
For Paul and Silas, though, that meant bonds of a different kind.
“After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. (H)e put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks” (v24).
Somehow overcoming the chains of fear and anxiety led them to chains in the middle of a deep, dark cell.
So they had a worship service.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God . . . ” (v25).
Wait! What? A worship service?! Yep, you read that correctly. Paul and Silas found themselves unchained by fear yet physically bound by chains for living the unafraid life, so they started singing praise to God.
That’s when the prison guard, overcome by fear, decided it was better to die then let these men go free. Paul’s and Silas’ praise shook the earth. (I like to think it was God stomping His feet to the beat of the tunes.) The chains on their bodies fell off even as their hearts sang, unbound and unafraid.
When the jailer saw the freedom of his two high-profile prisoners, his fear stepped up like a monster in a cave, and he picked up his sword to end his own life. Fear called him out, and he buckled.
“But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (v28).
The jailer fell trembling, even as Paul and Silas helped him see the only right place to put fear — on the One True God who calls thunder right out of thin air and breaks chains like tiny pieces of thread.
Right there and then, that prison guard took all his fear, and He transferred it to the One on whom it belonged.
The contrast intrigues me in this story. Paul and Silas, who should have been the afraid ones, feared God so completely that they were able to sing. Meanwhile, the jailer, who should have been resting on his laurels, ended up falling down terrified as a result of Paul and Silas having overcome the wrong kind of fear.
That’s what freedom from fear does. It points people to the One who deserves the fear. It helps people really live.
Break Through Worry by Pastor Nick Cleveland
15 Bible Verses for Trusting God in Tough Times by Rachel Wojo
The Unafraid Manifesto by Brianna Wasson (That’s me.)
An interview with John Piper with John Piper about casting fear on God
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp