(Paul and Silas in jail, singing praises to God)
I arrived home last Friday a little dazed and confused. Anxious. Worried. Frazzled. Yep, it all described my emotions as e-mails poured into my inbox like a flood. I wasn’t making progress on learning student names as I had hoped, and the iPad deployment date for students was as confusing to me as calculus is to my four-year-old. My wife sat me down and heard me out. I emptied myself, ridding every last worry from my soul to her, feeling somewhat better that I had just spewed it all out. And that is what it was: garbage. Puke. A disgusting mound of waste eating a hole in my stomach. So here comes the disclaimer, and I readily admit it: yes, this blog is largely for me. But I wonder, I just wonder, if any of you might be affected by beginning of the school year worries too.
The weekend was just what the doctor ordered! Try hanging with my boys who don’t have a worry in the world and you’ll get the picture. After a busy yet productive Saturday morning, we all did something became the game-changer that afternoon. We napped! (Well, my four-year-old sat in the corner and drew pictures of superheroes, but you get the picture.) By the time Sunday rolled around and I found myself still complaining about stresses to a Christian brother of mine, I knew I still wasn’t cured. That was when the Word of God took over through the sermon. I scribbled notes in my journal like a maniac, devouring every thought, and it all went back to Paul and Silas.
Acts 16 tells their story. They were outsiders. Fish out of water proclaiming the gospel when the gospel was not the most popular thing. The local magistrates captured them, had them flogged severely, and threw them into prison. Now I don’t know about you, but I’d probably be a little down by that point. You might find me whimpering in the corner curled into a fetal position. But not Paul and Silas! What did they do? They praised God. They sang hymns in that dungeon of a prison, and this is what gets me. The prisoners listened. An earthquake rocked the grounds, the prisoners had the freedom to leave, but they didn’t. The jailor awoke, and after thinking the prisoners had escaped, he was ready to take his own life. But Paul and Silas quickly reassured him they were all present.
This is where the story gets crazy. The jailor is all of a sudden at the mercy of Paul and Silas. He cries out to them, asking what he could do to be saved. Hello … opportunity! They pounced on that one like a bull dog on a pork chop, and the jailor, the same man who was ready to call it in just moments before, was saved. But it doesn’t stop there. Acts 16: 34 states, “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.” Did you catch that? He AND his whole family! All because these two warriors for Christ decided to keep their spirits up during a crisis.
The moral of the story is quite simple: when worry comes, praise God. Through the good, through the bad, praise God. Praising God for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He’s going to do. I tried that, and I tell you what. As good as that nap was to help my worries, the praise that I offered God the remainder of the weekend was the ultimate cure. I arrived Monday morning refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to rock-n-roll. Guys, we can’t do this alone. Give your worries to God. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5: 7). Praise God for this power He possesses no matter what the circumstance.
“I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears”
(Psalm 34: 1-4).
Take solace in that last line above. Crush worry with praise, and God will indeed have the final word. Forever.
(So what do you fear in life? Whatever it may be, let Chris Tomlin’s “God of Angel Armies” put some perspective on that. Listen below!)