My Loss, My Gain
by Sharon Betters
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death and somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Let’s go back to that prison cell where Paul and Silas sang and praised God at midnight. What do you think they hoped to accomplish with their singing? Some people teach that if we have enough faith God is obligated to heal us or send us money or change our circumstances. Based on the teachings of Paul throughout Scripture, we can be confident that was not their purpose. We know their physical pain did not disappear because after they experience a miraculous deliverance, the jailer dressed their wounds.
Oh, how I wish we knew the words of the hymns – that might give us a clue as to their motivation. Did they sing Psalms? We know they were not signing petitions for themselves but praise of God. These were songs of worship, sung loudly, so loudly that the other prisoners listened intently. The word for “listening” in this passage indicates strong, attentive listening. Paul and Silas definitely didn’t hide their light under a bushel!
My personal conclusion rooted not just in this passage but other writings of Paul is that they were not singing a song begging for deliverance (which is what I would be singing!) but rather songs that expressed their contentment in bondage. Anyone can sing when the prison doors swing open and they are set free, but the presence of Jesus in our lives and a growing intimacy with Him through a deeper understanding of the character of God gives us the power to sing praises to Him while we are IN prison.
Madame Guyon was imprisoned from 1896 through 1703 on trumped up charges, including the writing of A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer. While jailed she continued writing. One of her poems, in particular, describes how singing while imprisoned actually breaks the bars of the cell and frees us. As you read these words and review the words of Today’s Treasure, look for the theology that drove Paul and Silas to sing “to Him who placed them there.”
A Little Bird
A little bird am I
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be
Because, my God, it pleaseth thee.
Nought have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He who most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But still, He bends to hear me sing.
Though has an ear to hear;
A heart to love and bless;
And though my notes were e’er so rude,
Though wouldst not hear the less;
Because Thou knowest, as they fall,
That same, sweet Love, inspires them all.
My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
Oh, it is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him Whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.
Oh Lord, may we sing with joy, praises to you, just like the little bird in a cage.