And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
The conversion of the Philippian jailer is dramatic. It is an amazing story. But it would never have happened if Paul and Silas had not been beaten and thrown in jail. The paths of these three men would not have crossed any other way. And probably Paul and Silas would have done it the same all over again so that the same outcome could be achieved.
So often in life we will find ourselves in places and situations we’d rather not be in. So often we endure things that don’t seem fair, even as we’re just serving the Lord and trying to do what is right. But maybe in those times God has something else planned for someone else’s benefit. Maybe He wants to use that hardship to bring us to a person we couldn’t have met any other way upon whom we can have an eternal impact.
What a change had been wrought in the jailer that night. Maybe he had been a little rough with Paul and Silas when they were first laid to his charge. They were his prisoners, after all, lawbreakers. He was probably used to being tough and dealing harshly with others. But after his conversion, he is kind to Paul and Silas, gentle and tender, even, as he tends to their wounds and provides a meal, immediately becoming a minister himself, rejoicing in his newfound freedom in Christ.
The life of that jailer and his family changed forever because some Christians went to jail. It’s not always about our own comfort and our own desires being met and fulfilled. We can’t be spared of every trial. And God often uses those very things to bring about His greater purposes that go far beyond us. Anytime someone new crosses our path, it is an opportunity to minister to them, to share the love of Jesus with them in some way, to have an impact for His cause on the hurting people around us, and to shine a light into the darkest places.