Read Acts 16:16-31.

Paul and the other apostles were going from town to town, preaching the gospel and such, when Paul drove a spirit out of a slave girl in the Name of Jesus. This seems like a pretty kind gesture from Paul; he probably pitied her. But her owners weren’t too happy that their profits got cut. They ended up getting Paul and Silas into deep trouble with the local authorities. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (v.25) But even in the midst of everything, they didn’t stop following and proclaiming God.

Have you been going through something tough that may or may not be unfair? Do you still follow God and hope in Him even if He hasn’t lifted You out yet?

It’s easy to tell people about Jesus when we’re happy. It’s easy to encourage when we don’t need encouragement. It’s simple when it all makes sense. It’s effortless when we have no struggles. But it’s only when we hurt we can become the message we preach. It’s only when we struggle that we learn Jesus is all those things we talk about. God often teaches us through our circumstances, and we learn to depend on Him alone when we realize nothing else can handle it, even ourselves. It’s not easy to follow Jesus. It’s not easy, simple, or effortless. We know this, yet we’re still surprised when we struggle. We cry out to God and immediately start retracing our steps, or blaming Him, or asking Him to take it away. We forget that becoming like Jesus means He has to remove us. We have to be broken down. Why? Because it’s the only way we become soft, moldable, and sensitive to God’s touch.

It’s like when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon. Do you know how durable a caterpillar is? More durable than a fragile butterfly. But the caterpillar is drastically changed into a beautiful butterfly because God meant for it to grow into one the whole time. We are meant to be fragile in the hands of God, vulnerable and open.

Does this mean we’re called to be highly depressed and avoid all joy? Of course not, Paul and Silas were joyful even in their state. What it means is He’s pulling down our walls so we can experience joy. We build these walls around our hearts to try to protect ourselves, forgetting we’re already surrounded by the Almighty God. We think we’re blocking out pain, but we’re also blocking out love, joy, hope, faith, and so much more our Father wants us to experience! We’re also blocking out God. So when we ask God to change us, to make us like Jesus, He starts to tear down our walls, so He can get to us. And the more He removes, the more we can see and experience Him.

Hallelujah! Thank You, Father, that You love us this much! Thank You that You take the time to clean us and soften us so we can see and experience You to the fullest! Please Jesus, help me, hold me, and tear down my walls! Let You in, please! And remind me that even in tough times, You are still Who i should hope in and trust in, no matter what. Please help me praise You in the strongest storm because You are stronger! In Jesus’ holy Name i pray. Hallelujah! Amen, amen.