Running Out of Gas?
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
Have you ever run out of gas as a Christian? We’re not just talking about a lack of physical energy, because a person can remedy that through a healthy diet, rest and exercise. It’s about running out of patience, running out of joy. It’s when people around are celebrating, perhaps at holiday time, but you don’t have peace. Maybe you’ve lost your job and you’re thinking back to simpler times when things were going well in life, and it depletes your energy and you become depressed. But this flies in the face of everything we know about Christianity.
When Paul and Silas were arrested in the city of Philippi and were thrown in jail after having been beaten, they were actually singing at midnight! What about us? Most of us aren’t being thrown in jail or beaten, and we’re not singing at 3:00 pm—never mind midnight! You may be thinking, “Nobody knows what I’ve been through,” but just imagine: Paul and Silas went through much more, and they were hanging in. And there have been martyrs throughout church history, and even to this day, who have faced adversity with assurance and strength.
We are challenged by the Word of God to learn why it was that these believers went through so much yet were victorious. On the other hand, many of us are going through so much less, but we have this malaise and this depression and this victim mentality, which seem to be a sign of the times in which we are living. The root of it is that God never meant for us to live out of our own resources. The Christian life is one of a continual receiving. God never intended for us to keep anything—ever!—or for anything to be resident in us in the sense of the flow of God’s grace, which is God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
So whenever we’re running low on gas, we have to understand the daily miracle that Jesus wants to perform in the lives of us all. The secret is receiving from Jesus. As Christians, we already received him as our Savior; but we have to receive from him every single day, so we don’t get to a point in life where we run out of gas. Life has its surprises, and they’re not always pleasant; but we can remain steady and firm in our faith by receiving daily strength and peace and joy from the Lord. We do this by spending time in his presence and in his Word, asking him to make himself real to us, to speak to us, to guide us, to fill us, to enable us to touch others with the same love and compassion with which God has filled us.
Notice that in the case of Paul and Silas, the biblical account says that the other prisoners were listening to them sing in the midst of their depressing surroundings. The Lord received glory and they received deliverance from their situation as they received God’s grace and let it flow out through them toward others.
The Lord wants to do the same in each of us today.
Read the account of Paul and Silas in Prison in Acts 16:16-34.