About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Paul and Silas are beaten severely and imprisoned. Doubtless without proper medical care! Their reaction is surprising. They sing!

Surely, the other prisoners must have thought them mad. But their pain is not all they feel this night. Their spirits are buoyed by the fact they have not suffered in vain, rather in loving service to the Cause of Jesus.

Jesus warned that those who follow Him would suffer as He did. As the good purposes of Jesus advance in the hearts of men and women, forces of opposition inflict physical or emotional pain and suffering.

Why is there suffering in the world? Why, if God is loving and powerful?

The usual answer is that humans cannot enjoy both free will and a world free from the suffering that wrong choices bring. This rings true. Sometimes we suffer because of the sin of others or even our own.

In a fallen world, the impulse to avoid personal suffering leads man to inflict pain on others. Shortages of food may lead to theft or even murder. Inevitably, some suffer loss of property or even their lives.

Nations war against each other over land disputes or even national honor. To avoid economic pain or loss of pride, more hurt ensues.

But choosing not to believe in God because of suffering in the world does not remove suffering. It only removes the truth that makes suffering bearable.

Jesus came to show how to deal with suffering that naturally comes in a world where hurting one another seems to offer the quickest way to avoid pain ourselves. He answered hostility and suffering with love.

Knowing they will suffer, students of Jesus like Paul and Silas, choose to redeem their suffering through love. A love that extends even to their jailer who was about to kill himself for fear his prisoners had escaped - Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"

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