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Treasures of the Kingdom, Number 12 (April 2001) | Timeless Truths Publications

“Grandpa,” Edward said, perching next to him, “Why does God let bad things happen? Dan says it’s silly to pray and act so happy and stuff.”

“If you don’t know God, you don’t know what He’s really like,” replied Grandpa, leaning back to tell a story. “I’m glad I know Him, especially when things go wrong.”

The Dungeon’s Song

(Reference: Acts 16:12-34.)

Philippi was a large and bustling city during the time of our story, with a great highway through it leading from Rome to Asia. All sorts of people lived there, poor and rich, happy and sad, those that loved God and those that didn’t, including one jailer and his family. We will call his daughter, Bess.

“There was quite a stir in town today,” Bess’ father said one night. “A couple strangers have started a riot and upset the city, but they’re getting flogged and imprisoned tonight.” Bess shivered. She didn’t like to see the prisoner’s backs get slashed and bloody. But that was part of a jailer’s job, and the bad men must be punished.

“What did they do?” Mother asked.

“They’re teaching unlawful customs, even bewitching the merchant’s fortune-telling girl and… oh, here they come in the gate now!” Bess followed her father out the door and stared at the strange men. Their clothes were ripped and bloody, and the angry merchant was shoving them along with a stick. The door to the inner dungeon clanged as Father hurried the strangers in, and so Bess slipped in after. Surprised, Bess saw a kind face look up at hers as his feet were being clamped in the stocks. Why didn’t they shout or swear like the other prisoners?

“Father, some water…” Bess said, but he only rushed her out the door and fumbled with the key chain hanging from his belt. The locks clicked and everything was quiet. But Bess could still see the ragged men with their kind faces deep in that dark cell.

It was some time after Bess had fallen asleep that she heard the singing. Was she dreaming? She sat up and listened, but the deep voices continued on joyfully—from somewhere in the prison. Suddenly everything seemed to spin and shake so that Bess rolled off her mat with a shriek. Banging and snapping sounds broke through Father’s cursing—“In the name of the gods, what’s going on?!” He was at the open door holding his sword to his throat and shaking. Bess saw in the moonlight that the prison doors were open.

Just then a shout came from the darkness, “Don’t harm yourself; we are all here!”

“Get a light, Bess!” Father cried, in the sudden stillness. He disappeared into the dungeon with a bound, and shivering with fright; Bess and the rest peered in. There stood the unchained prisoners, with Father trembling before them. Surprised, Bess listened as they told of their Master, Jesus, and the salvation that He had bought for them all. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” they said.

Could she believe? Bess looked at these men, so strange, yet so kind and cheerful. This was not some strange custom, but something good. These men were different, and she knew she wanted to be, too. She wanted the joy that could break the dark chains of the dungeon. Bess could see it on their faces, even in the dark.

Grandpa paused, and then asked, “And do you remember how that story finished?”

“Yes, I remember this story,” said Alice, “The jailer’s family all got saved, and then he washed up the prisoners’ wounds and fed them and was really nice to them.”

“Why was that?” asked Grandpa, patting Sammy’s head.

“Because he loved them now, and he wanted to take care of them nicely,” said Sammy.

“Wasn’t it Paul and Silas that were the prisoners?” said Edward. “It must’ve been bad to be beaten up and chained down there.”

“Yes,” agreed Grandpa, “but they had God’s love in their hearts, and He helped them to shine out, even in the dark.”

“And it touched the jailer’s heart that they were so good and didn’t run away,” said Alice. “I guess he realized that they weren’t bad men after all.”

Grandpa looked at Edward, “So do you think you have an answer for your friend now? Is it worth it to pray and love God when we get in trouble for it?”

Edward nodded. “And God made the earthquake and helped them.”

“And helped the jailer’s family, too,” said Grandpa. “God’s ways are best because they end best.”