Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Paul and Silas, because of their zeal for God, were stripped, severely beaten, and cast into prison. The jailer, having received strict orders to keep close watch on them, put them into the inner cell, and fastened their feet in the stocks. But, thank God, this did not quench their evangelistic spirits for "at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God, and the prisoners heard them" (Acts 16:25). Indeed, my reader, not only the prisoners heard these two late-hour worshippers, but God our Maker, "Who gives songs in the night" also heard them: "And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, 'Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.' Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and your house.' And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and he was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house" (Acts 16:26-34).
This was something new to the jailer, especially at such a late hour — prisoners praying and singing. Perhaps the other prisoners, at first, thought Paul and Silas were fools. "Is it a new kind of religion?" doubtless they asked. Nevertheless, it changed the spirit of the prison.
Life itself often seems to be a prison, burdens and trials cutting our hearts until we cry for peace and mercy. Is it not possible for us to find, through prayer, a song we can sing in this midnight hour of sin and sorrow? Surely, if we obey God, it will be as the Psalmist said, "The Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song will be with me" (Ps. 42:8).
It was a song from the Lord in the hearts of Paul and Silas that caused the jailer and those in his house to walk out of the darkness of sin into the light of life. Now, what about your song, my Reader? Do you have one? One that you can sing, and feel the glory of God as it springs up within you, and lights from time to time the dark cells of distress and perplexity that so often overtake us? Or are you like the Psalmist, when he said, "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord. My sore ran in the night, and ceased not. My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled. I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night. I commune with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Does His promise fail for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?"
No, beloved, God hasn't forgotten to be gracious. He still loves you, even if you have lost your song in the night. I know what it means to lose this heavenly tune — "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." I went a long time once when "my song in the night" was only a memory. And as the Psalmist said, "I remembered God, and was troubled. I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed." But, thank God, I did as the Psalmist did, "In the day of my trouble [I was seriously ill], I sought the Lord." Yes, Reader, "I considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." In other words, the early years of my ministry. Indeed, I called "to remembrance my song in the night." I communed "with my own heart, and my spirit made diligent search." Consequently, the joy of my salvation was restored; and today, I have an established testimony, a testimony that God can and will "renew a right spirit within" anyone who will pay the price.
As we look about us today and see so many believers who have lost their song of victory, our mind runs back to the days of Job, when he saw the transgressions of God's people being multiplied, and yet, they would not repent. As Job states it, "No one says, Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?" (35:10).
Do not despair, my friend, if you stumble along the way. No failure need be final except the failure to repent and begin anew. For "if our hearts condemn us, he is greater than our hearts" (1Jn. 3:20). And if our hearts rejoice, he is able to make us "rejoice always"!
Child of God, "keep your heart with all diligence" and keep your "songs in the night". If you can do this, I am sure that when the midnight cry is made, "Behold the Bridegroom! Go ye out to meet him!", you will be able to respond, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto you because of your righteous judgments" (Ps. 119:62). Until that day, may God bless and keep you, and may you ever retain your comforting song in the night.