It’s hard to remain focused on Christ when facing hardship, pain, or persecution. Frankly, people are often guilty of allowing day-to-day frustrations distract them. So, it’s both humbling and motivating to study examples of disciples who endured intense attacks but didn’t lose sight of their service to Christ. One example is that of Paul and Silas when they were flogged and thrown in jail in Philippi.
“The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:22-24)
This was a public flogging. Paul and Silas were humiliated by first being stripped of clothing in a public spectacle. Then, in front of the crowd, they were severely beaten.
The pain of the flogging would’ve been intense. Paul and Silas were then taken away bloody and in throbbing pain. No one even tended to their wounds before fastening each of them in stocks inside a dark, dirty prison cell.
Infection to their wounds would become likely without treatment, and the lashings they endured would leave permanent scars. These men had reason to be discouraged and withdrawn. What they endured was horrific!
Yet, instead of anger and resentment, they were rejoicing in the Lord.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. (Acts 16:25-33)
The attacks against them, the flogging they endured, and their imprionment; these events ultimately led to Paul and Silas being able to share the gospel with the prisoner and his whole family. That night, the jailor and his entire household were saved because Paul and Silas were able to keep an eternal perspective despite their humiliation, pain, and circumstances.
This all occurred within a matter of hours. Again, on the afternoon before, Paul and Silas had been publicly stripped and severely flogged. Even so, during the night, they were able to share the gospel with an entire family who came to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Wow!
Paul had substance to his words when he wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
At times, I allow my priorities and desires to get sidetracked. I allow frustrations, interruptions, or inconveniences to distract me from what is most importance. My desire is to focus more and more on Jesus and His kingdom, and remember the things of this world are all perishing and mean little in light of eternity.
Just like Paul and Silas did, we need to keep an eternal perspective at all times, regardless of our situation. An eternal perspective keeps us in a positive mindset. Further, it may well be that God has a divine appointment for us only hours from now.