Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
I have heard a number of stories of men being imprisoned who have committed no crime. One in particular spent decades behind bars. He missed dozens and dozens of family occasions. He was not able to watch his daughter grow from a girl to a woman. Trapped in that cell all those years he prayed for God to expose the truth and set him free. Eventually, he would be exonerated and receive his freedom. The mechanism of his liberation was not a fantastic earthquake or an unbelievable storm. The miracle which saved him was a new scientific method of analyzing a substance of which we all are made. For him, God’s miraculous provision came in the form of DNA testing, and the freedom it gave him extended beyond him to those he held dear.
Paul and Silas did nothing wrong to be imprisoned. In fact, they were doing the greatest and most noble thing in sharing the gospel with a lost people. It is true that they did not need to be physically free from that prison in order to lead people to spiritual freedom. However, God had much for them to do outside that place, and those things would come to pass according to his will. Paul would need to make connections with a number of early churches so that eventually he would write his teachings to them, which would trickle down to us over the centuries. God’s miraculous provision for him was not food or shelter or clothing. God provided Paul’s freedom by his obvious hand in order for Paul to plant the seed of the gospel message in the early Church.
We might look at God’s miraculous provision here as simply the freedom of Paul to do God’s work. He shook the ground, loosened the chains and opened the cells, then Paul and Silas were free to continue in ministry. Yet, this miraculous provision extends 2,000 years in the future. Through that work, God provided the ministry of Paul to the early Church along with his writings for us to gain wisdom from them even today. God’s miraculous provision for Paul was also miraculous provision for each one who has gained something spiritually from his work. He is still providing through that miracle right now and will be doing so for years to come. Father, let us see and experience the perpetual fruit that comes from your provision through the miraculous.