Acts 16:1-25-34
 “At the Midnight Hour”

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened.”  Acts 16:23-26. ESV 

For the past several weeks, I have been preaching a series of sermons called “At the Midnight Hour”.  In both the Old and New Testaments, “midnight” is often a metaphor for those times in our lives when we feel a strong sense of terror, accompanied by an even stronger sense of great fear, shock or surprise; believing that all is lost – feeling overwhelmed, trapped, with no hope of escape from the trouble.  The symbolism in each of the “midnight” stories (whether negative or positive; historical event or parable) commands our attention to better understand the texts and their implications.

In effect, we become victimized and can become paralyzed by the circumstances in which we find ourselves.   In Exodus 12, in the the Tenth Plague, death strikes the firstborn of all those who have not obeyed God and covered the doorposts of their homes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs.  In Matthew 25, there is the midnight cry that signals the approach of the bridegroom – and while five of the bridesmaids are ready to go to the wedding, tragically, there are five bridesmaids who are not ready and do not go to the wedding.

For any number of reasons, many people today find themselves in a “midnight hour” of their lives.  The loss of our job or career, the loss of our home, or a divorce – all of these necessitate our having to make drastic changes in our lives.  The loss of a loved one or the onset of a catastrophic illness permeates every facet of our being – down to the very core of the foundation of our lives.  Troubles in relationships multiply and escalate, regardless of the source of the problem.  All of these life-events put incredible strain upon even the strongest of people and families.  It is no wonder we can reach that point of surrender to our circumstances.

As believers in Jesus as our Messiah, however, we have access to the throne of God – and this is what we find Paul and Silas doing.



Park Flowers Image
Flowers at the Park (Galveston Bay)

Typically, what we don’t understand, we fear and attack.  Bleeding and hurting from their beatings, Paul and Silas are put into chains and thrown into a filthy, vermin infested, dank dark jail to await their appearance before a judge.
Yet here is where their story takes a strange, unusual twist.  We must ask ourselves, “What would you and I be thinking and feeling at this point?  Would  we be crying out for help?  Pleading to be set free?  Might we be cursing the people who beat us and the guard who has put us in shackles and has now fallen asleep?  Might we be craving a sip of water, a small bite of food, or some sort of small kindness from someone?  Anyone? 

But the Word says Paul and Silas were “praying and singing hymns to God”! 

AMAZING!  Not exactly the kind of response most average people would have – not even most Christians.  And yet, it is in the worst of times that God shows us through many biblical accounts that praying and singing to Him are exactly what we should be doing – even in the worst of circumstances.  Paul and Silas have learned that in times like these, “the joy of the Lord” is our strength.  They love God and know He has a divine purpose for what He is allowing, and a plan for getting them through it!


Comments? Questions?