“But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25
Paul and Silas were having a very rough time. In spite of trying to serve God faithfully in Philippi, they were stripped, beaten with rods by Roman soldiers, and imprisoned with their feet in stocks. They had done nothing wrong! In fact, they had done everything right. Let this lesson again be clear: life can be exceedingly hard and is incapable of caring about how good you are.
We find more important lessons here. First, notice that Paul and Silas were singing at midnight. These hymns were probably songs of praise, most likely from the Psalms. Praise for God is always appropriate. If you reserve praise only for the victories in your life, you have set a limit on your spiritual growth. You will be stunted, forever in a toddler stage of demand. Instead sing your favorite hymns of praise (Immortal, Invisible and O Worship the King are two of my favorites). Praise takes your eyes off your troubles and focuses them on your Father. Praise for God is always appropriate.
Second, singing hymns during the “midnights” of life is a tremendously faith affirming practice. A time of testing will never leave you in a neutral state spiritually. You will either emerge better or bitter. The good new is that you choose the outcome. If you choose to affirm your faith, no matter what happens to you, then you have opened your soul to the greater blessings of God’s presence. Decide today, in a new and deeper way, to affirm your faith at midnight. Your affirmation will dull the power of doubt and discouragement, two of the enemy’s favorite weapons.
Third, your faith at midnight will be a tremendous ministry to others. Notice that the other prisoners heard Paul and Silas singing. I doubt singing was typical in a Roman jail! How do you think that may have affected them? Songs of light sung in the darkness can be a great inspiration. The Bible is full of stories of one person’s faith helping another person’s healing (the four friends with the paralytic, or the centurion with his slave are two examples). Your faith at midnight has a ministry quality that you must not ignore. Others will be encouraged by your faith.
We have all heard the saying “it’s always darkest before dawn,” and while this proverb is very hopeful, it is not true. Astronomically, it is darkest at midnight, when the sun is on the opposite side of the world. In other words, your darkest hour may presage a period of longer darkness. But praise is always appropriate! So keep singing no matter what the circumstances. Your God is The Father of Lights (James 1:17). He will brighten your darkest times. He will do that this moment as you sing, even at midnight.
Dr. Terry Ellis