READ : Acts 8:1-8
There arose . . . a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered. (v. 1)
The believers in Jerusalem were starting to feel like family. Then in a day, everything changes. Stephen is accused of blasphemy and stoned to death (Acts 7). From then on, Jesus’ followers become the hunted. A man named Saul begins “ravaging the church,” taking believers from their homes and tossing them in prison. Jesus’ followers scatter to Judea and Samaria. The close-knit group in Jerusalem must have felt great pain at the break-up of their spiritual family. But while the Jerusalem believers faced sadness, in Samaria “there was much joy” because the gospel had arrived (v. 8).
Sometimes our world gets rocked. We face difficult times of change. We can’t see why. In Acts we catch a glimpse of God’s working through a painful situation. The church was scattered, but behind the scenes God was using even persecution to bring glory to himself. Amidst pain and suffering, Jesus’ words came true that his disciples would be his witnesses in “all Judea and Samaria” (Acts 1:8).
We may never know why God allows suffering. But we can trust that even in the most difficult life changes and circumstances, God is alive and active. No example is more clear than the cross itself. It was by Christ’s death that we now have life.
God, your ways are often hidden in suffering. In times of great pain and crisis, give us the faith that you ultimately bring life.