Read: Acts 6:8-8:3
A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1
Stephen is killed, persecution breaks out, the church is scattered. Seems like a worst case scenario. Ultimately though, this persecution turns out to be the best thing for God’s Kingdom. The message is spread, and the church and the good news of Jesus expands.
Historians generally believe that if this situation had never happened Christianity would have remained a very regional and localized movement. They were comfortable in Jerusalem. They were with people like them, who believed like they did, and who encouraged and affirmed their faith. Without the persecution they never would have gone. They never would have reached their redemptive potential. The world would look different today.
Many times in our lives we face persecution, troubles or difficulties. In our limited view, we pray for God to fix them (which is legitimate), rather than looking for the bigger thing that God may be doing in the midst of them. Jesus never promised us a problem free life, but scripture does promise us that God will use all things (even the bad things) for our good ultimately.
So, the next time you face a trouble, persecution or difficulty look for the bigger thing God is doing through it. You may or may not be able to see it in the moment. You may or may not be able to see it in this lifetime, but you can go to the bank with the knowledge that God is using it for your good and His glory. He promises to do that in Romans 12:1, and history is full of stories just like this one.
When we can change our perspective from the world revolving around us to the world revolving around Him, we can see our lives as part of the bigger story. We can live confidently, boldly and courageously through the good and the bad, making the difference we were created to accomplish.
Lord God – help me to walk in faith today. Help me to see or at least trust that you are working all things to my good and your glory. Use my life to spread your gospel. I give you my life today. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.