Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 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 family.
Acts 16: 26, 29, 34 (NIV)
After Paul commanding an evil spirit leave the body of a slave girl, her master became angry and presented Paul and Silas to the authorities, claiming they were “throwing the city into an uproar.” The men were stripped, beaten, and ordered to prison.
Scripture doesn’t detail how the jailer treated the men, but customs of the time tell us that he was probably brutal. His sole job was to keep the two in prison, so when an earthquake caused the prison doors to fly open, he was prepared to die.
Paul implored the jailer to spare his own life, and in a change of heart that can only come through conversion, the jailer took Paul and Silas to his home. He and every member of his family believed in Jesus as their Savior, and they were filled with joy.
The Lord can work in any situation, no matter how dire, to reach the lost. He will use the prayers and songs of his children – like he did with Paul and Silas – to touch the hardest of hearts. After witnessing the Lord’s presence in Paul and Silas’ lives, the jailer and his entire family were forever changed. They were filled with the light of Jesus, and filled with joy. That same joy fills our hearts today. It’s the evidence of Jesus in our lives, and it’s as unmistakable now as it was 2,000 years ago in that prison.
For Today: Did you or someone you know become a Jesus-follower in the midst of a dire situation? If so, how was God’s work during that difficult time an encouragement to you?