“And he (the Philippian Jailer) took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” – Acts 16:33

Tucked away in this little descriptive sentence is an enormously important and beautiful detail.  It’s the kind of subtle detail that is easy to miss.  I invite you to awaken your imagination to the background of what is happening in the lives of men named Paul and Silas.  Walk in their shoes just for a brief moment…

You find yourself in a Roman city named Philippi.  Philippi is a cool city because it’s a colony of Rome.  This means it has all the perks of Rome with the autonomous freedom that comes from being outside of the city.  You show up in town one day and meet some fascinating people.  After building relationships you begin sharing the Gospel and the message is resonating with the locals.  That is until it upsets the apple cart of one family’s cash cow.  When the schemer’s abuse scandal gets flipped upside down things go south in a hurry.

Sucker punch.
Rod to the back.
Clothes ripped.
Gang beating.
Public humiliation.

You groggily come to after your beating.  The wounds sting because they are still fresh.  The bruises are still tender.  You hold your cracked rib and inhale the dirty air of your prison cell.  What just happened?

This is the experience of Paul and Silas.  What follows next is earthshaking in more ways than one.  They begin to pray and sing songs of worship.  Bleeding and singing.  Grimacing and praying.  The other prisoners are listening in.  They’ve never seen this reaction to imprisonment – especially false imprisonment.  Suddenly the ground shakes and the earth moves.  Prison bars fall down.  It’s pitch dark when the chaos begins to unfold.  The night shift jailer panics knowing his prisoners have escaped.  The penalty for such a breach of duty is merciless and violent death – better to fall on your own sword than have to answer to your Roman superior.

Just as the jailer unsheathes his sword comes a cry, “NO! Don’t harm yourself! We’re all here.”  The light of an evening torch shows the bruised and wounded Paul and Silas offering comfort and care to the trembling jailer.

Now imagine being the Philippian Jailer.  You’re working the night shift trying to provide for your wife and kids.  You look into the blackened eyes of two men your comrades – maybe even yourself had abused earlier in the day.  Two men you know don’t belong in prison.  Now Paul holds out his bleeding hand to touch your shoulder and say, “It’s Okay, we’re not running.”

Struggling to formulate words you think to yourself, “How can two men bearing unjust wounds demonstrate compassion to me, their adversary?”  In an instant you realize, the Jesus they sing to and pray to must not be anything like any pagan god you’ve ever offered homage to.  Bursting from your mouth you cry, “What must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas comfort you and say something like this:

“Long before we received these bruises – another was bruised.  These wounds are nothing compared to the ones our Savior bore.  The one you’ve heard us sing to and pray to – His name is Jesus.  Want what we have?  Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you’ll be saved.  Oh by the way, this invitation is available to your family as well.”

“And he (the Philippian Jailer) took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” – Acts 16:33

Think about that detail now.  When Paul and Silas spoke to the unbelieving, trembling jailer – they did so as wounded men.  There was purpose to their pain.  Prevailing faith amidst pain gives birth to compelling credibility.  Our best ministry often comes through our deepest wounds.

Praising God during chemotherapy.
Praying for our enemies.
Loving our persecutors.

How are you seeing your pain?  How am I responding to my suffering?  It’s likely someone is watching and listening in to see how you and I will respond.

What will they see and hear?

Lord, give us faith to pray and sing praises in our pain.  Lord, give us faith to heal with our wounds.

One thought on “Wounds that Heal

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