“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
Paul and Silas were traveling far and wide to preach the Gospel to anyone who would listen. They worked miracles, baptized many, and established churches. This was Kingdom work of the highest order. And what do they get for their trouble? In Acts 16, they had cast a demon out of a girl, which angered her abusive owners who used her for profit (it’s amazing how often miracles made people mad). The evil men whip up a mob, beat them with rods, and throw them in prison. To amplify the injustice, Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, which should have protected them from beatings and imprisonments without a trial.
But what happens as a result of this evil and injustice? Do Paul and Silas give up on their mission? Do they alter their message in order to offend less people? Do their antagonists successfully stop the gospel? Actually, as a direct result of the evil injustice that happened to Paul & Silas, a Phillipian jailor and his household were saved. God can and does use injustice, discomfort, and persecution to further his plan. When God’s enemies try to imprison the gospel, the gospel just gets preached to the prison guard!
When we encounter difficulty, resistance, or persecution for speaking God’s truth, don’t be deterred or tempted to alter the message because God can use all kinds of circumstances to spread his kingdom. Joseph, who had a laundry list of injustices done to him, declared, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). During a different imprisonment, Paul wrote, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil 1:12-14).
God advances his kingdom through hardship more than he does through ease. The gospel seems to spread in prisons better than it does in palaces. If it became illegal to preach the gospel tomorrow and we all got thrown into prison, it wouldn’t be time to whine & moan—it would be time to start up a prison ministry! If the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, then what can man possibly do?