Gracetidings with Dr Doug Mamvura
There comes a time in our life when everything seems lost and one is neck-deep in trouble. We all face challenges in our lives some of which may look insurmountable.
As a believer, what do you do when you are confronted with such a crisis? Do you curse God, and dump your faith? Do you blame yourself for the problems you are confronted with? Do you organise a pity party for yourself and drown yourself in tears?
We have a very interesting example of two men who found themselves in one of the most horrible situations. We encounter these two gentlemen in the book of Acts.
“Then the multitude rose up against Paul and Silas and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16: 22-24).
The stocks were a Roman instrument of torture that not only had holes for the head and arms but also multiple holes for the legs so that the legs could be forced widely apart into painful positions. The discomfort and pain of the stocks, coupled with the pain from the many stripes, gave Paul and Silas more reasons to complain than what most people have today.
However, they chose to pray and sing praises — “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Suddenly there was such as violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose”. (Acts 16:25 -26)
It is certain that Paul and Silas didn’t feel like praying and singing praises unto God. They were going directly against all their natural feelings and deliberately exercising their will to enter into praise. This is the way that we abound in faith and a supernatural deliverance was the result. If we praise by faith instead of complaining through pain, we will experience God’s miraculous power too. If they could do it, so can we.
This earthquake didn’t just happen naturally. This was a mighty demonstration of God’s power, and it was released because of the apostles’ prayer and praise. Praise is a powerful force that can cause earthquakes or whatever miracle we need.
All these prisoners were set free, yet they didn’t leave. They had already been freed spiritually by the faith they heard in Paul and Silas. When people truly experience the freedom inside that only God can produce, things that they previously would have given anything for suddenly become unimportant.
At times we worry ourselves with things that don’t matter. Worry is one of the most useless and yet harmful activities most of us occupy ourselves with. The Bible makes it clear that we should not “be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything (every circumstance and situation) by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your specific requests known to God”.
The word “anxious” means “uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.” This is a command for us not to be anxious about anything. How do we do that? This verse goes on to explain that we are supposed to take our needs and problems to the Lord in prayer. Anxious people are people who haven’t thrown their problems over on the Lord in prayer.
Notice that all our supplications are supposed to be made with thanksgiving. That’s very important. Sometimes people just tell the Lord all their problems and call that prayer. That’s complaining. But when we voice our needs to the Lord and wrap them in thanksgiving, that moves us over into the realm of faith. If there isn’t thanksgiving in every prayer we pray, then we aren’t abounding in faith.
Paul said we were to give thanks when we make our requests to God. A request is something asked for but not yet received. We wouldn’t request something to happen that has already happened. So, we are supposed to thank the Lord for doing things before He does them. That’s what the Bible calls faith.
Notice we are supposed to use prayer and supplication. Many people only think of prayer as supplication; ie, asking for something. But the Greek word “Proseuche”, translated “prayer” in this verse, means “prayer (worship)” (Strong’s Concordance). This is saying we need to be praising the Lord, which moves us into faith, and then make our supplication to the Lord.
Special mention is made of the prisoners hearing Paul and Silas praying and singing praises unto God. This explains why none of the prisoners escaped when the earthquake came and their prison cells were opened. They had apparently been moved by Paul and Silas’ demonstration of joy and faith to such a degree that they recognised the earthquake as a direct intervention of God and followed Paul and Silas’ leading in not fleeing the prison. This was as great a miracle as the earthquake itself.
You and I can experience the same miracle or victory if we choose to focus on the faithfulness of God and we get rid of our anxiety and worry when we are confronted with a difficult and seemingly hopeless situation. Most of us we give up too soon and are intimidated by some of the challenges we face in life.
We don’t realise that “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” His word tells us that to “fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name.
You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:1- 2).
You may be passing through deep waters or walking through fire at the moment, God is saying fear not just like God said to the Israelites. Notice that the Lord didn’t promise them they would not pass through the waters, rivers, and flame. He promised them safety in the midst of these things.
God’s people do still suffer because we live in a fallen world. But the Lord has promised to sustain us through all these things. As believers, we are not immune to the suffering and challenges in this world. The good news is that God is our rock, shelter, shield and deliverer. He is a good shepherd. He takes care of us in the midst of our enemies or challenges.
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @dougmamvura