We have no idea what song Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian jail in the story found in Acts 16. But, we do know this; it was earth shaking!
I wonder if Psalm 13 might have been the choice.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (v.1)
They must have surely felt forgotten. They were doing what God had called them to do in the place where God called them to do it and all they had to show for it was a whole lot worse than a t-shirt. They were thrown in prison.
Ever feel like you’ve been given a raw deal? Like your circumstances are not matching up with your faithfulness? You’ve done everything you believe you are supposed to do, and you are getting nothing but frustration in return. It makes you want to walk outside, look up to the heavens and say, “What’s going on up there? Aren’t you watching? Don’t you care?”
Psalm 13 helps us understand that it’s okay to ask those kinds of questions of the Lord. When we find ourselves completely disillusioned without any hope that God is working it out, He is more than willing to take those questions.
The psalmist continues:
How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me? Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, I will sleep in death. My enemy will say, “I have triumphed over him,” and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. (vv. 2- 4)
As the questions fly something begins to happen. God grants us wisdom to ask for the right thing. “Restore brightness to my eyes” becomes the prayer instead of “Get me out of here.”
But, the last part of the psalm is why I wonder if it might have made the set list for Paul and Silas.
But I have trusted in your faithful love, my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because he has treated me generously. (vv. 5-6)
Even as the questions fly, the praise continues and the confidence that God is going to deliver His servant stays strong. Faith in the heart of God’s servant will come up as worship in the servant’s mouth. The song that starts with honest questions moves to faith and then finally, praise.
The next time you can’t see the sunlight, sing anyway.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.