Valleys = Opportunities
Acts 18:40 - After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydie's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
Here are Paul and Silas - working for the Lord, doing the godly thing, sharing the gospel, casting out demons, being arrested and severely whipped, shackles around their ankles, locked in an inner cell of a Philippi jail, and being closely guarded. So what do they do? That begin a praise and worship service. They being began praying and singing hymns to God!! In spit of what we would clearly claim to be heinous treatment by the people and government of Philippi, they worshiped. They weren't complaining or whining about their circumstances. They weren't inciting the people over their mis-treatment. They didn't run to every person who would lend a sympathetic ear and share their sob story. NO!! I don't think Paul and Silas would stoop to that. Instead they turned to their Lord and praised Him.
I recently ran across a definition of worship I like very much. I can't remember where I read it, but I like it. It goes something like this: "Worship is when we take the focus off of what's wrong with us and place it on what's right with God!" Now that's worship. And this is exactly what Paul and Silas did. They didn't even consider what was wrong with them and, instead, focused on what was right with God.
It was also while in the midst of this valley that hey were sensitive to opportunities to minister to others. Take the jailer, for instance. It says that God used this opportunity to use Paul and Silas to minister to and lead the jailer and his entire family to received Jesus as Lord and Savior. They even baptized them afterwards. They didn't run the first chance they got. They could have. The doors were flung open and the shackles had fallen from their feet. They had every opportunity to hit the road and never look back. They could have said, "Adios amigos!" But they didn't. Instead they used their valley experience to make themselves available to God and lead a man and his family to the Lord.
Then, after finally being released. . .appropriately, according to Paul. . .they went directly to Lydia's house. Why? To tell them about their unfair treatment and to solicit sympathy? I think not! Verse 40 says they went and when they met with the brothers Paul and Silas encouraged them. I can hear them now, telling the brothers - many may have been new to the faith - how God used them in spite of their circumstance to share the gospel.
I do believe there was probably some shoutin' and hollerin' going on. Worship probably broke out there as well.
If you're like me, you can use a reminder like this to help us keep in mind that we need to stop whining and complaining about our valleys and 1) worship our Lord, 2) look for opportunities to minister and be used by God while we are in the midst of a valley, and 3) encourage others when we come out on the other side. If you're in the midst of a valley I hope you will take your focus off of what's wrong with your or your circumstance and place it squarely on what's right with God. Remember, the "what's right with God" is way more powerful than what's wrong with you!