Acts 16:34 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.
Have you experienced a time of when you thought you were following God and everything seemed to go wrong? You struggled with thoughts that you missed what He wanted you to do. Then in the midst of some of the worst difficulties, things happened that only He could have arranged and you saw that He was orchestrating the events the whole time.
The 16th chapter of Acts contains such a story and it is one of the most remarkable stories in the Bible. It details the events leading up to and including this jailer and his family coming to believe in the Lord Jesus through the ministry of Paul and Silas. These events are rather extraordinary and not exactly what we think of when we discuss God providing us with opportunities to share our faith and lead others to the Lord.
It started with a vision. Paul wanted to go elsewhere but God used it to direct them to Macedonia. Things seemed to be going well until Paul cast a fortune-telling spirit out of a slave girl. Her owners became upset because this meant that they ceased to earn a great deal of money from the girl. Due to the owners’ efforts Paul and Silas became ‘public enemies 1 & 2’. They were seized, with the crowd joining in; dragged into the marketplace before the authorities; stripped, beaten, severely flogged and thrown into prison. Just to get where God wanted them to be!
The jailer, having been warned, placed them in an inner cell with their feet in stocks. At midnight, instead of sleeping or grumbling or being distressed over their fate – they were praying and singing hymns to God, with all the others listening! Then a violent earthquake struck that set everyone free – but no one tried to escape. The jailer was about to kill himself, but Paul shouted out and stopped him from harming himself.
What a blessing that Paul and Silas were more concerned about the jailer than their freedom. What a blessing that they were glorifying God. The jailer came and fell trembling before Paul and Silas – asking what he must do to be saved! He and his whole household responded to their instructions and experienced the joy of salvation.
The next morning, the authorities wanted to release them as though nothing had happened! I have no difficulty believing that God orchestrated all these events, simply to reach the jailer and his household. Yes, a group of believers was established there in that city. But the series of supernatural events led to the conversion of this jailer and his family. Paul and Silas were faithful in spite of the unjust suffering and abuse they endured. Do we understand that the Lord will do similar things with us today? Are we willing?