November 25, 2016

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Have you ever thanked God during times like this?

Debra TomaselliIn this time of thanksgiving, it’s easy to recall our many blessings. Usually, I’m grateful for the good things in my life. I’m thankful when things go my way, aren’t you?

But what if they don’t?

I learned something about that while thumbing through my Bible recently. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are preaching the Good News in Macedonia. People were receptive at first, but before long, things didn’t go well for the two evangelists.

The tide turned when Paul drove a demon from a slave girl, rendering her unprofitable to her master. The merchant accused Paul and Silas of corrupting the city and teaching the people to do things against the Roman laws. A mob quickly formed. Paul and Silas were arrested, condemned and whipped mercilessly.

Then they were dragged into prison. Torches of fire lit the way, flickering in the shadows of the corridors. Other prisoners cursed and spit at them. Upon reaching an innermost cell, the jailer shackled Paul and Silas’ feet to stocks, then slammed the doors and locked them in.

Paul and Silas were thirsty, hungry. They were suffering, uncomfortable, in pain. They were imprisoned, chained like animals. Insults were hurled at them. The open wounds bled and stung. Nobody cared.

Not exactly a good day, right? I’m not sure I’d be adding this one to my list of thanks. Would you?

But watch what happens.

Around midnight, we are told Paul and Silas were singing hymns and praising God. Imagine that? After the day they had? A song comes from their lips? Praise from their mouths?

I don’t know about you, but I wonder. … Do I sing worship hymns when I’m hurt, imprisoned or ridiculed? Do I praise God when things look terribly hopeless?

Paul and Silas did … and look at the results.

As they were singing and praising God, a violent earthquake shook the prisoners free. Their chains loosened and the doors flew open.

Now that’s worth a song or two!

I think the same happens for us when we praise God during difficulties. Incredible things happen. We are set free. Even if we can’t see the doors fly open, we are freed. We are free from anxiety. We are free from worry. We are free to be at peace. We are unbound.

Praise, after all, expresses our trust in God. When we trust God, no matter the circumstances, we are set free.

So this Thanksgiving, my list of blessings will expand slightly. There will be the typical thanks for family, friends, good times and successes. But with a little prayer, my list will include the struggles. I’ll give thanks that some of my worst times turned into the best times because they introduced me to the real presence of God in my life. He showed up when everything else failed.

And even now, as I’m battling cancer, failing to see the road ahead, I’ll praise God and thank him for that, too.

Praise will set me free.

And that’ll be worth a song or two!

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

Local site Links: