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Light and Rest: Acts 16:16-34

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Paul and Silas waited in an inner cell shut off from light, too dark even to see. Unfairly accused, stripped, beaten, publicly humiliated, and thrown into jail, everything about the day was another blow against their ministry for the Risen Christ.

But in the black night of pain and frustration, instead of despair, the two jailed men found hope and peace. By the light of Christ, they did not see the stocks binding their feet, or what would happen to them tomorrow. In that moment, living to the glory of God, they wasted not a second of life that God had given them. Resting in confidence of His presence and care, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to the Lord.

In their book Sleeping with Bread, authors Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn describe the World War II orphans gathered into refugee camps. Traumatized by their recent experiences, many of the children could not sleep at night. The caregivers discovered though that letting the children hold a hunk of bread all night helped them fall asleep. Certain that they had food for the next day, the children could rest.

Though few of us have known jails and refugee camps, we can still find ourselves in prisons, dark holds, barren spaces . . . and sleepless. We count the minutes and days until our lives improve, or we try to move on to a place of less pain or darkness. We focus on what’s to come or what’s past, hoping to skip the pain of the present. Many times during seminary, I grew frustrated with studying, practicing sermons, lack of money. I couldn’t wait for the real world where I would really live and serve God and make a living and start my family. Then, in the spring of my final year, one of my classmates contracted an illness and died, all within six weeks. I was stunned; for him, life on earth was over. Why was I trying to skip over this today, right in front of me?

Like Paul and Silas, at different times, we find ourselves surrounded in dark. We are orphans fearing that no one will care for us. Yet Jesus invites us to his light; he invites us to rest, clinging to the promise that He will provide everything we need tomorrow. In the darkness, when traumas resist sleep, Christ is the light; Christ is the bread.

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