This past weekend, we looked at how we all have assumptions that guide and undergird our lives. These are the little rules and beliefs we have that are almost always just under the surface.
And, while these assumptions aren’t necessarily bad, they can be dangerous when left unexamined.
So, we examined the assumption that when disaster hits, it’s always bad. At first glance, that almost seems like an oxymoron, because isn’t disaster, by definition, bad?
Well, in the story we looked at in Acts 16, what first seemed like disaster was actually God’s deliverance.
To start, we read that Paul and Silas are thrown in to prison. And, First Century prison is a brutal place to be. After being beaten, flogged, shackled and left in the innermost prison, Paul and Silas are in a dark place – literally. They are unable to sleep, and so they sing praises and hymns to God.
It’s at that point that an earthquake hits.
And, the first thing you think of when an earthquake hits isn’t, “This is God’s deliverance!” No, you think, “Oh no, we are going to die!”
Remember, Paul and Silas are trapped in the innermost cell. If walls collapse, they will die. So, I think when the shaking first happens, the natural response is fear, not thankfulness that God is setting them free.
But, the amazing thing is that God uses the earthquake to set them free. Something that at first glance seems bad, seems like a disaster and seems like things are getting worse, is actually the vehicle for God’s freeing of Paul and Silas.
Because, our main point is: Sometimes God is in the shaking.
Sometimes, when things start to shake and fall apart, God is using it to free us.
And that’s what we really explored.
Of course, it isn’t always true. Sometimes a disaster is just a disaster, but sometimes it’s also the thing that sets us free.
What we hoped to challenge was our assumption that God is always absent from difficulty, disaster or earthquakes, and to remind ourselves that sometimes God is active in the shaking to bring about salvation and freedom.
We ended with this challenge: Look for God when things start to shake.
Sometimes when you go through difficulty, it doesn’t mean God caused it, willed it, wanted it or is a part of it, but it also doesn’t mean God is absent from it, isn’t using it or isn’t a part of it.
So, when the earthquakes come, we should get in the habit of paying attention to God and to what happens in the shaking. To actually look for Him and ask: “God, are You in the shaking?”
That’s where we landed – not with more answers, but with more questions that focus us back toward God.
Passage: Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 143:7-9
Main Point: Sometimes God is in the shaking.
a) We assume that God most often uses good, happy, healthy, stable, calm and welcome things to move, direct and do amazing things in our lives.
b) God shows up to Paul and Silas in a surprising way that challenges our assumptions on how God moves.
c) First Century Flogging – Admonition vs. Verberatio.
d) Paul and Silas are in a bad place, waiting for the next bad thing to come; waiting in a space of unknowing is sometimes harder than waiting with knowing.
e) When things start to shake, our first thought isn’t that God must be saving us, but that the end is upon us.
f) Sometimes what looks like a disaster is actually a form of God’s deliverance.
g) When you go through difficulty, it doesn’t mean God caused it, willed it, wanted it or is a part of it, but it also doesn’t mean God is absent from it, isn’t using it or isn’t a part of it.
h) When things start to shake, pay attention to God and to what happens in the shaking.
Challenge: Ask God, “Are You in the shaking?”