This was such a blessing today I wanted to share it here.

Abiding Hope in Prison
Friday, August 14, 2009
by Dr. Paul Chappell

Acts 16:25

The presence of God is always reason for hope.

Darlene Deibler, a missionary in Indonesia during WWII, described the moment she was taken by the Japanese secret police and locked in solitary confinement for later interrogation:

The door closed upon me, and I dropped to my knees, eyes intent upon the keyhole. When I saw the key make a complete revolution, I knew I was on death row, imprisoned to face trial and the sentence of death.

I listened to the footsteps of the guard recede on the concrete walkway. When he was gone beyond hearing, I sank back onto my heels. My face and hands were wet with cold perspiration; never had I known such terror. Suddenly I found I was singing a song that I had learned as a little girl in Sunday school in Boone, Iowa:

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot;
He enters all rooms, The doors being shut.
He never forsakes, He never is gone,
So count on His presence from darkness ‘til dawn.

So tenderly my Lord wrapped His strong arms of quietness and calm about me. I knew they could lock me in, but they couldn’t lock my wonderful Lord out. Jesus was there in the cell with me.

Even in prison, God gives His children “songs in the night” (Job 35:10). Paul and Silas provide an example of the abiding hope we can have in Christ in the most desperate circumstances.

When Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and cast into prison for preaching the Gospel, they could easily have buckled under the persecution. They could have harbored bitterness toward their persecutors or to the Lord. But what was the response of these godly men? They prayed and sang praises to God at midnight!

Didn’t they feel the pain of the stripes on their backs and the shackles binding their feet to the stocks? Didn’t they experience fear of possible (even likely) execution? Didn’t they smart under the unjust treatment? To sing in a dungeon-like prison with open wounds, sticky with clotting blood, surely indicated that these men needed a reality check!

No, they were not in denial; they felt every bit of the pain. Yet, Paul and Silas understood the larger reality—God was with them in prison. As real as the pain, as real as the stocks, as real as the uncertainty, was the presence of the Lord.

Paul and Silas’s spiritual response to persecution demonstrates to us that the hope and joy which triumphs in all circumstances cannot be self-manufactured; it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” (Galatians 5:22). We, too, can have this abiding hope that enables us to sing joyful praises to God, even during difficulties, when we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control.

Is your spirit bound in a prison today? Has despair tried to wrap its heavy chains around you? Have the actions of others wounded you? Remember Christ is with you. There is no prison where He cannot enter. Trust God’s promise that He will never leave you and that He will make all things work together for good. Like Paul and Silas, sing and praise God—even in the prison. The presence of God is always reason for hope.

To learn more about Pastor Chappell's books, Sunday school curriculum, and spiritual leadership resources, please visit,, or follow him on twitter.

No comments: