the fuzzy twilight moments somewhere between deep sleep and waking, I recently grew conscious of ominous thoughts replaying difficult situations I had been facing in the days before. They seemed to play out with just enough clarity to arrest my desire to complete the process of getting out of bed.
In my stupor I found myself quietly mouthing the words, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; O what a foretaste of glory divine…” As I went through the ritualistic motions of getting ready for the day, I countered the relentless spirit, with all its ‘what if’ scenarios, with “Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me,” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.
I wish I could boast that the heavy dose of hymns was sufficient to completely eradicate the fears. Oh, they were still there, silently hovering just below my conscious horizon. With only a glance in their direction they were more than prepared to surround me. Each time I sensed the impulse to humor them, I broke out with another hymn; the next one began, “Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father…”
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:19 that our music should be a vehicle of praise originating in our hearts and then energetically offered to the Lord. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Paul and Silas traveled to Philippi with a powerful burden to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Instead of a warm welcome, the magistrates arrested them, had them mercilessly beaten, and then thrust into a miserable jail. They were half shoved, half dragged across the miry floor into the deepest recesses of the jail; the incarceration reserved for the vilest of criminals. Their feet were securely shackled to the wall forcing their legs to cramp in the awkward position.
As the night slowly passed, the effects of their brutal beatings and primal conditions, magnified by the intense darkness, intensified their agonies to an unbearable crescendo. Though hoarse, Paul tried to voice the melody of a song of praise to God. Silas groaned as he leaned as close to Paul’s parched lips as he could, trying to discern what he was trying to say. He thought he heard, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” Paul coughed and nearly passed out because of the pain. Just then, Silas continued, “Praise Him all creatures here below…” Paul raised his head and, as loudly as he could, sang with his incarcerated companion the rest of the song. After a brief pause, they sang another song of praise, then another, and another. Before the night finally passed, Paul and Silas considered for a moment and rejoiced that for the duration of their praise concert they had barely noticed their pain!
Paul and Silas experienced the wonderful phenomenon of Ephesians 5:19. As they directed the love and trust from their hearts to God by way of song, God was glorified and Paul and Silas were energized. They enjoyed the residual benefit that occurred as they praised God from the heart; God was praised and the provider of praise was blessed. Herein is a glorious application of truth!
As I pillowed my head that night after a full day of opportunities, I thanked God for the grace that He provided throughout each moment of the day. I mused how my spirit, though still prone to tremble at the slightest remembrance of the fears, had been lulled into a peaceful rhythm of trusting my Savior. The last cognizant thought I remember that night was, “Blessed assurance, Jesus issss”…zzzzzzz