Menu Close

Joy in Jail! | Acts 16:16-34

How do you and I keep our joy when the going gets tough? The hunt for joy continues in Acts chapter 16, beginning in verse 16. We’re going to jail.

Show Links:


So far, we’ve gone looking for joy at a wedding and a funeral. So today we’re going to jail. Hi, I’m Erica. Welcome to the Bible for Busy people. I’m looking forward to continuing our quest for real joy, the kind that sticks to your spirit like glue, especially when the going gets tough. Who is the most joyful person you’ve ever met? I just believe it’s going to be somebody in your life who’s been through a lot and who keeps on trusting the Lord. I thought about this question for days until I saw my friend Katie’s face pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. Without a doubt, she is the most joyful person I know. A bunch of years ago, Katie was involved in a car accident and now she lives life in a wheelchair and she’s full of life now. It wasn’t like that in the beginning.

My friend actually hit rock bottom early on, but she discovered as Pastor Tony Evans likes to say that God is the rock at the bottom. And these days Katie absolutely radiates joy and it comes straight from the Lord. You know the kind I’m talking about with her faithful service dog by her side. She goes to worship concerts, she rides ATVs. She’s always up for an outdoor adventure with her friends. Katie says, A joyful life is rooted in God and gratitude, and I can’t agree more. So how do you and I keep our joy when the going gets tough? The hunt for joy continues in Acts chapter 16, beginning in verse 16. We’re going to jail. This is Luke, the doctor. I like to call him the reporter writing. Now, one day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future.

She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us shouting, these men are servants of the most high God and they have come to tell you how to be saved. This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated. Aren’t you glad that the apostle Paul also got exasperated? He got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her, and instantly it left. Her master’s hopes of wealth were now shattered. So they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews. They shouted to the city officials. They are teaching customs that are illegal for us. Romans to practice. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods.

They were severely beaten. Remember that? And then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Here’s the best part of the story. Are you ready? Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. That’s our takeaway verse, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly there was a massive earthquake and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open and the chains of every prisoner fell off. The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, stop, don’t kill yourself. We are all here. The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down, trembling before Paul and Silas.

Then he brought them out and asked Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied, believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved along with everyone in your household. It’s that simple, by the way. And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire households rejoiced because they all believed in God. Such an incredible account. Paul and Silas must have been in so much pain. Remember, their feet were fastened in the stalk. They were severely beaten with wooden rods, but still they prayed and sang to God in that prison cell, and though they were in jail, their souls were free.

My favorite part of that whole story is our takeaway verse, the fact that the prisoners were listening. I believe joy was possible in that moment because Paul and Silas were smack dab in the middle of God’s will. They looked up instead of down. They sang themselves out of their circumstances, and God wound up setting the jailer and his family free. As a result. That must have brought Paul in Silas, so much joy. And think about it. The jailer washed the wounds of Paul and Silas and Paul in Silas shared the news with the jailer that his heart could be clean. Those wounds inside his heart could be healed. God was working in each of their lives in a beautiful way. So the next time you find

Yourself in the prison of tough circumstances, look up knowing there’s a greater purpose. Pray and sing through it. Sing yourself out of your circumstances because others are listening and God will bring great good out of it. Until next time, you are really loved.

Thank you so much for listening to the Bible for Busy People. If you need prayer or you’re ready to go a little deeper in your faith, we’ve posted some resources for you in our show notes. We’d love for you to share this podcast with a friend and leave us a review. It helps us reach even more people with the hope of Jesus. This podcast is part of Purposely, a podcast network designed with practical podcasts to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life.

Find more podcasts that will recharge you at

Related Posts