Trusting God in trying times

Trusting God in trying times

Casey Serin, Flickr

The Apostles Peter and Paul both spent time in the hoosegow. While both were jailed for the sake of the Gospel, I find it interesting that they passed their time in different ways. Peter slept. Paul sang.

In the first instance, as Luke records in Acts 12, Herod “laid violent hands” upon the Christians. He killed James, the brother of John, and then jailed Peter. On the night Herod meant to do his worst, Peter slept in chains between two soldiers. When an angel appeared, he glowed bright and illuminated the cell. But Peter snoozed so soundly that the heavenly deliverer had to smack him to get his eyes open.

In the second case, as Luke describes some four chapters later, an irksome and demon-possessed slave girl followed and harassed Paul and his company for several days. The irritated Paul had all he could tolerate and finally exorcised the demon, much to the chagrin of the girl’s owners who turned a tidy profit from the demon’s prognostications. The owners had Paul and his friends tossed behind bars for disturbing the peace. There in his cell, even though it was midnight, the manacled Paul sat up, alert and singing instead of drifting to sleep. Suddenly, an earthquake jarred the the jail open and loosed his shackles.

In both instances, the circumstances were dire and, though deliverance was soon coming, the apostles had no way of knowing that the Lord would free them. After all, God didn’t spare James or others like Stephen, whose death Paul assisted before his own conversion. But as different as their responses seem on the surface — one sleeping, the other singing — they are in fact strikingly similar. Both testify to their trust in God. The darkness of the circumstances failed to overshadow their faith and hope.

“God disposes all things in divers ways,” commented John Chrysostom. “And … it is beautiful that Paul sings hymns, while here Peter was asleep” (Homilies on Acts 26). It is beautiful. When the circumstances of our lives turn sour and grim, we can sing or slumber. But however we express our particular and personal reactions to God’s diverse providences, all that really matters is that we trust him.

About Joel J. Miller

I'm the author of Lifted by Angels, a look at angels through the eyes of the early church. Click here for more about me or subscribe to my RSS here.

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Good post. I think it is also important that we examine our actions after the trial. How we respond says a lot about what we believe. During difficult times our response is often more honest than what we see on the pews.

    • http://joeljmiller.com Joel J. Miller

      Tension and pressure are what prove a substance — I think it’s true for character too. That’s why God allows testing in our life in the first place. It’s in the trials that we grow, a thought I cover in this piece here.

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Good post. I think it is also important that we examine our actions after the trial. How we respond says a lot about what we believe. During difficult times our response is often more honest than what we see on the pews.


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