When we are being treated unfairly, it is difficult to understand why God would allow such a thing to happen or how He could possibly use it. I’m sure you have either worked somewhere or have known someone who has worked somewhere with a terrible working environment. Usually, when that happens, several people come and go from that workplace and scatter. Scattering doesn’t sound like something God would want or use, but today we are going to read the rest of Stephen’s story and see how God can use difficulties and persecution to strengthen the church rather than weaken the church. Please turn to Acts 7:54-8:6.
Reading this selection, we can see that Stephen was killed because he was bold in his faith. I highly doubt that the early church looked at that moment and thought that now God was going to spread the truth to all nations. I’m sure that the church was discouraged, and we can even read in Acts 8:1 that, “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” From the human perspective this seemed horrible; it seemed as if the church was going to crumble because it was scattering. However, we can see that was not the case as we read on in chapter 8. Please look at verse 4: “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” They may have fled from the persecution, but they didn’t stop spreading the truth and hope of Christ. We can even read how God used Philip in Samaria.
The early church had just reached a turning point and I’m sure they thought it was for the worse at the time. The fact that I am writing this blog and that you are reading it is evidence that when they were scattered, God used it to further spread His love. Just think on the fact that everyone was staying in Jerusalem until persecution hit. I don’t know if the persecution is what was needed to spread the word or if God used it as an opportune moment, but the end result was that the church grew instead of disintegrating.
Look back at your own life for a moment. Can you see times when God used something bad to bring you to a turning point in your relationship with Him? God can use both the good events and the bad events to work for His purpose if we are willing to let Him work in our lives. Please look up Romans 8:28 and see what the Bible says God can do.
What has God used as a turning point in your life? Are you in a difficult situation now? Are you trusting that God can use it for His glory?