In 2016, I bought a blue hat with the phrase “We’re Still Here” on it. Originally, I bought this hat in protest to another hat, but after reading Acts 16, I now see this hat reminding me of a different purpose.
It is easy in times like these, when the troubles of the world seem like too much, to get fatigued. No change in history has ever occurred without a shaking. Things will shake that we want shaken, and some things will shake that we absolutely did not want shaken. Life happens to all of us without discrimination. Jonathan Martin says this, “It almost always takes a shaking to get the treasure out of God’s people.” I listened to his sermon titled “Shaken” that he preached in March. I was fascinated by how he told the story of Paul, Silas, and the jailer in Acts 16.
Paul and Silas were preaching the gospel and were followed by a slave girl who made a lot of money for her owners by predicting the future. She announced who Paul and Silas were and what they were doing. Paul cast the spirit out of her. There actually wasn’t anything wrong with what she said, but this proves the wrong spirit can say the right thing. That got Paul and Silas in trouble because now they have messed with the economy. Sounds familiar: preach all you want as long as you don’t mess with our money. They were brutally beaten and thrown in jail. The jailer was charged with watching them carefully, so he put them in an inner cell and bound their feet.
Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns while the others listened, and then a violent earthquake happened. It shook the foundations of the prison and the doors of the prison opened and the chains broke loose; everyone was free. At this moment the jailer wanted to take his life, but Paul says in verse 28, “Don’t harm yourself! We are still here!” The jailer wanted to know how to be saved. He not only came to believe in Jesus and was baptized, but he tended to their wounds before he was baptized. The wounds he inflicted. The shaking caused the gospel message. In Jonathan’s words again, “The wind of the Spirit is in the chaos.”
I think about the jailer in this story a lot. When there is a shaking, we who are anchored in hope can find discernment from the Spirit, but those without hope are finding utter despair. Fear does really ugly things. Fear is a liar, and lies are in the air. I think about the phrase Paul says, “We’re still here.” We are not leaving the oppressed or the oppressor. This is what my blue hat with “We’re Still Here” on it reminds me of. This world is on fire, but we are still here. Whatever the shaking is doing to everyone, we are not going anywhere.
I know what is happening is horribly tragic in our world today. There is no excuse for the suffering of children. Jesus has extremely harsh words for those who hurt children. We must be the midwives that defied Pharaoh when he wanted to kill Hebrew baby boys. I hold out hope for the jailer too. Will someone have an encounter in their shaking with one who has hope, and not only want to be saved, but tend to the wounds they have inflicted? I love how the story brings about justice. It is not just confessing Jesus with our mouths. We also confess our sins and tend to the wounds we have inflicted.
The problems we face are big. It will take time to sort through the rubble of what once was, but we get glimpses of Heaven in pieces. A new creation is coming. We are getting to participate in bringing in the Kingdom now. The glimpses of Heaven seen and experienced now are enough to keep going. The stakes are high, but We’re Still Here.