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Acts 16:16-40 brings to us a delightful story of the power of joy released in the midst of a most trying and difficult circumstance.

Paul and Silas were sent out as missionaries to the heathen. This is never easy under the best of conditions but this was particularly hazardous because the Roman laws forbade the introduction of new religions other than that which was already publicly permitted.

As Paul and Silas ministered in Philippi, a demon possessed girl, who was controlled by men who used her nefariously for gain in divination and soothsaying, began to follow them crying aloud, "These men are the servants of the most High God...."

After many days of this Paul turned to her and demanded the spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ. When the wicked men saw that their source of income was cut off, they incensed the crowd against the missionaries and caused them to be beaten severely and cast into prison.

Paul and Silas were cruelly beaten and thrown, near death, into a clammy, dark, cold dungeon where their hands and feet were securely fastened to the stone wall.

Here is a testing ground under the direst of circumstances. How does the average believer react in a situation such as this...though few are this severely tried?

We can almost hear the remarks of many, "Why, God, why did this have to happen to me?" "I have sacrificed, left home and family, and look what I get!" "Doesn't God take care of His own?" or, "I must be out of God's will!"

Let's imagine the conversation as the average Christian would have pictured it, that might have taken place between Paul and Silas after they become conscious. "Paul, are you there?" "Yes...hurts, doesn't it?" "Yes." "You're not very talkative, Silas." "I know. I was thinking...where do you think we missed it?"

"I'm not sure, Silas, perhaps we should have gone on into Asia." "But Paul, the Spirit forbade us to go." "I thought so too, but maybe we missed it." "Well, perhaps we are to be among those whom God has chosen to suffer and die for Him."

This is a picture of what would have transpired in the dungeon if the scene was reconstructed in the imagination of the average Christian.

If we look again at the account given of this incident in the Scriptures we can in no way imagine the conversation between these two godly men as we have just written it.

Indeed, it must have sounded more like this: "Paul, can you hear me?" "Yes, I hear." "What are you thinking, Paul?" "Well, I thought for a few minutes there that we were both going to die and I rejoiced so at the thought that we would soon see Jesus and was happy just thinking about it."

"I was thinking the same thing, Paul...Hallelujah!" " sing better than I do, why don't you start us off singing a chorus of praise?"

Thus they sang, loud enough that the other prisoners heard them, and the Bible makes it clear that they were singing "praises unto God."

The test that Paul and Silas went through was caused by the devil. They certainly didn't thank God for Satan! It simply teaches us that in all circumstances and conditions we are to be happy and to rejoice (Phil. 4:4).

Being joyful (and joy flowing is laughter) does bring supernatural deliverance. God did hear them. God did honor them. He sent a local earthquake that shook the bars and gates...and loosed the locks that bound His children.

Through this incident God saved the jailer and his family, publicly honored his servants, and embarrassed the enemy. Praise and joy expressed will bring God on the scene!

Do as Paul and Silas did. When everything seems to be lost, pray and sing praises to God. Make yourself rejoice.

Source: He Who Laughs Lasts and Lasts and Lasts
by Roy Hicks
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Roy Hicks
Web site:
Roy H. Hicks was a successful minister of the Gospel who gave his life to pastoring and pioneering churches throughout the United States. He served the Lord in various foreign fields, having made missionary journeys to South America, the Orient, Australia, and New Zealand.

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