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About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Read the entire passage: Acts 16:22-34


It is midnight in a first-century Roman prison. The damp darkness clutches at the air in your lungs. Every breath is burdensome because of the merciless flogging. Rough wooden stocks shackle your bloody feet.  Your fate is uncertain.

Paul and Silas find themselves in this very situation. They came to Philippi to spread the good news of Jesus. They followed God’s clear direction, and now they sit in prison. They have been robbed of a fair trial, their health, dignity and a night’s sleep. It would only be natural for them to question what in the world God is doing. Instead, we find them praying and singing songs. It doesn’t appear they are doing this quietly or to themselves. It seems the whole prison can hear their joyful praise.

Paul and Silas must have seemed strange to the other prisoners. Singing and praising weren’t likely an everyday occurrence in a Roman prison. Paul and Silas understood something about choosing joy under pressure. As Senior Pastor Jeff Manion tells us below, they knew joy could be found in the midst of any situation because joy is to be rooted not in feelings or situations, but in trusting the person of Jesus. When we focus on the generosity of God that expresses itself through gratitude and praise even in seasons of extreme pain and deep disappointment t. Joy is based in something no one can ever rob from us—Jesus.


Even if we are not in prison, we encounter unpleasant and downright terrible circumstances on a regular basis. We face unwanted career changes, marriages falling apart, wayward children, chronic sicknesses, mean friends, lost savings or a belittling boss. Situations that can rob us of our health, dignity, possessions and a good night’s sleep. However, we can choose joy when we realize our life circumstances can never take what we have in Jesus. Today, in your journal, make a list of the things you have from Jesus, which can never be taken from you.

Download a printable PDF for the week here.