As mentioned in our last visit Paul and his team ran into some obstacles during the early stages of his second missionary journey. Once they saw their first converts in Philippi they were confronted by opposition from the owners of a fortune telling slave girl whom Paul delivered from demon possession.
Her positive experience was her owner’s financial loss. Acts 16:19-24 describes what followed: “The owners of the slave girl… seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities…The crowd joined in the attack against (them) and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison.”
What appeared to be a brutal setback was ordained by God to further establish the fledgling church. It’s not clear that Paul and Silas understood this as their bodies were wracked with pain, but by responding as they did they put themselves in the place where God could work out His plan: “About midnight (they) were praying and singing hymns to God.” Remarkable, isn’t it! When we patiently accept God’s ordained delays and persevere, while enduring brutal setbacks, the stage is set for God to implement His plan.
What followed is nothing short of miraculous. An earthquake broke open the prison. The prison keeper, startled to find the prisoners still there, was dramatically saved along with his family. The magistrates were publicly humbled as they released Paul and Silas. And the church was firmly established!