This morning, I was reading Acts 16 about Paul and Silas. They had been "seriously" beaten with rods, cast into the inner dungeon, and their feet were fastened securely in stocks. These two men had to be in intense pain with their backs open and bleeding. And I'm pretty sure it was difficult to get comfortable in a concrete block with their feet chained to the floor. I tried to imagine what that would feel like, especially taking into consideration the fact that they didn't do anything wrong - nothing that deserved punishment of any sort, let alone something this extreme.
But this is where they found themselves. The account goes on to say that at about midnight (which would be very dark - as we can tell when later the jailor asked for a light to go into the dungeon area), they were singing to God. They were not moaning, crying, wailing, or whining. They were singing - not to the prisoners. They weren't leading everyone in a chorus of Amazing Grace. These two men were singing praises to God.
How could they do that?
Because God did not change with their circumstances. The Kingdom wasn't shaken - but the jail was! The dark jail cell did not change God's peace, it didn't change His grace, and His mercy was still intact. Paul would later write to the church in Corinth that God's grace would be sufficient for anything life might throw at us. Maybe his journey of discovery started in that jail cell that night. Who knows?
As caregivers, we can often feel like we live bound up in a cell, with very little freedom and few friends left. Our souls can feel the brokenness of carrying the responsibilities. Our hearts can be broken as we see our loved ones hurting, slowly slipping away, or aging. But we can still sing to the God who does not change. Even though our souls are broken, bleeding, and hurting, we can sing of His grace because it still stands. It still carries us. We can sing about the Kingdom of God because He is still reigning on the throne of our hearts. God did not and will not abandon us to the darkness - His light can reach our souls no matter how far back we feel we have moved or been moved in life. He's still got us, and other prisoners are listening in. What will they hear today?
Today, I will purposefully sing of His grace because I know that grace is what gets me through each day. I'll turn my focus from my dark cell to the things about God that cannot change, like His love, grace, mercy, peace, and salvation. I will be thankful for His keeping power that sustains me through the long days of caregiving, and I'll trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?
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