Fix Your Focus

By Megan Williams

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” – Acts 16:25

How are we supposed to face a future that we have no control over?

I will never forget this moment.

When I was 12 years old, we were evicted from our house. Along with the little things we could grab, My mom fit me, my little brother, and my little sister into our small red car. As we were on our way to try to find shelter for the night, The car broke down right there on the side of the road. It just shut off… I was in the back seat while my siblings were sleeping and I was scared to death. I didn’t know what we were going to do next. I wanted to help my mom in that moment but felt so helpless. 

I saw my mom do something that I never thought would happen.

At that moment, she lifted her hands and praised God. She started thanking God for keeping us safe. She began to thank God for how far He brought us.

A couple of guys were in a situation where they had zero control over what was going to happen next. The two guys I’m talking about are Paul and Silas. These two had placed their faith in Jesus and dedicated their lives to traveling from city to city telling other people the good news about Him. During their ministry, Paul and Silas eventually made their way to a city called Philippi, which is in what we now know as Greece. There, they came across a girl who was owned by some guys who made money off of her. The Bible says that she was possessed by an evil spirit that gave her the ability to predict the future.

The apostle Paul had compassion for her and prayed in Jesus’ name that she would be set free from the evil spirits. The men who owned her, however, weren’t celebrating like she was. They were so mad and had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into prison.

But Paul and Silas were praying different prayers—prayers that seemed unusual considering their circumstances. Check it out:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25 NLT).

These guys were full-on singing while they were in prison! They were chained up, beaten up, and their future looked anything but up.

But in the middle of that uncertainty, they chose joy.

Paul and Silas had little control over their current circumstances and even less control over their futures, but they had complete control over their attitudes.

They chose to fix their focus on God, who they trusted with their present and their future. If this were the end of the story, it would be good enough.

Suddenly, there was an earthquake that shook the entire jail, knocking the doors to everyone’s cells open and breaking loose their chains. The jailer was so consumed with worry over what might happen to him that he drew his sword and was about to kill himself when Paul shouted out to let him know that they were all still there.

Now I gotta be honest, if God opened up the prison door while I was in jail then I would have run out of there but Paul and Silas’s response was different.

The guard was so amazed by the way Paul and Silas carried themselves that he fell down in front of them and asked what he must do to be saved. And that’s the other lesson we learn from Paul and Silas. When you choose joy, you never know how it may affect and inspire others.
Choosing joy doesn’t take away all the uncertainty. But I do think it can help us navigate the stress we feel in any unknown circumstance. So choosing joy doesn’t mean pretending like everything is perfect, but it does mean finding hope in the fact that God has control over your future.

In the midst of my mom praising God, she got a phone call from a friend that she hadn’t heard from in a long time. The friend said that her name came up in her heart and asked my mom if she needed anything. My mom’s response was “Thank you Jesus!” and she began to tell her friend that we needed help.

My mom praising God in that car changed how I see God and reminded me to fix my focus off of my circumstances and unto Jesus, my provider.

I encourage you no matter what you are facing and no matter your circumstances, choose joy. Choose to fix your eyes on Jesus.

December 1, 2023