Read Acts 8:1-8.
This all started with the martyrdom of a godly young man, Stephen. If you go back a few verses you can see that Stephen had just been stoned by members of the Sanhedrin. This was what started Saul’s persecution of the early church. The persecution was so bad, all believers except the apostles fled. They scattered to different areas in Judea and Samaria.
This doesn’t sound good. In fact, if you’re not careful, it can make you really mad. An innocent and godly man is murdered for teaching about Jesus. Then Saul begins his terrible persecution of the church (but we know about his later conversion). Don’t let hearing about these things make you angry. Nothing happens outside of God’s will.
Here we see God used something terrible and brought so much good out of it. Those who were scattered spread the gospel wherever they went. Philip, who traveled to a city in Samaria, preached the gospel there and got the attention of the whole town. Many people were healed from impure spirits and paralysis. “So there was great joy in that city.” verse 8
Good did come out of it. Don’t you wish there was a way to see the good God is doing first, instead of all the evil of this world? What if we could look at a situation and see what God sees? Well, there is a way to have faith that God is doing something good that can help us keep going and see God’s will sooner. It comes from understanding Who God is.
We’re going to go back a long, long time before this happened, to the time of Job. We’ve probably all heard the story of this righteous man who followed God, suffered much testing, but would still not curse the Name of God. Job really stuck it out ‘til the end, didn’t he? Yes, that was him. But there’s so much more to the book of Job. It has some amazing descriptions of God’s power.
Read Job 40:6-14 and 42:1-6.
God spoke to Job and reminded him that He is above everyone else, and Job replied by acknowledging God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and power, and his own smallness. God truly has a plan and will carry it out. And no matter what we think it looks like, it is still good. When we think God has allowed bad things to happen for no reason (or an insufficient reason), we are doubting His character. We are either saying, “God, You are not good” or “God, You are not almighty.” We know neither of those statements is true, but often times we forget what it really means to believe them. When we believe them, we know that even when we can’t see what He’s doing, God is still totally in control and perfectly good.
To believe that God is both good and sovereign is to let Him saturate the way we view things. It’s also to become humble in ourselves. When we become prideful and self-focused, we look at a situation like the early church had (or even Job had) and think, “God needs to rescue me (or them).” That’s a sure sign that we need to reevaluate how we’re looking at God, the situation, and ourselves. It was in Philippians 1:21 that Paul made the famous statement, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This isn’t just true; it’s something Paul firmly believed in. He said, “for to me,” not “in the long run” or “at the end of the day.” This was his opinion and belief. Too many times we overvalue our own earthly lives. Yes, God makes our souls invaluable in Jesus’ blood, but our life is still in His control. As Christians, we need to give ourselves wholly over to God’s will. There’s no easy way to say this, but we have to be willing to live or die for Christ’s glory alone. But have we to worry about or fear? God will call us home to Him when He knows the time is right, so in reality, we don’t have to worry at all!
We also have to recognize and openly admit that we have nothing to offer God. We have no quality, skill, or gift that can make us valuable to God; it is the love and blood of Christ that has given us our value. God loves us, and His will is what’s best for us. This is true even when His will includes persecution, discomfort, disappointment, and pain. We have to remember that God’s will is far more important than our will.
We often limit God by our own experiences and understanding, making Him look small. Finally, we have to remember that God works in impossible ways. His thoughts are above our thoughts and His ways are above our ways. We will never be able to understand his power, wisdom, or boundless love. I think one word in particular really describes how God works: “beyond.” God’s way is beyond the reaches of our understanding, but His heart is not beyond our faith. Even though God is great and powerful and holy and sovereign and wise and big and loving and forgiving and gracious and merciful and faithful and glorious and beautiful beyond our minds’ extents, we can still trust that He is good and He loves us, no matter our circumstances.
Thank You Lord that we can trust in Your heart even if we can’t see how Your hands are holding us. Thank You that You work in impossible ways far beyond our imagination! Thank You for Your great and good plan; it is perfect. Thank You that You are perfect, loving, and so good. Please help us trust in You and truly believe You are both sovereign and good in everything. And please help us have faith in You and look for You in every circumstance. Please keep us humble and eradicate any pride or self-centeredness we may have. Please help us let our minds be boggled in a good way by Your greatness, power, and love; the amazing, wise and intricate way You work all things together! In Lord Jesus’ Name i pray, let You receive all glory! Amen.
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” –Job 42:2.