Why do tough times come our way? When will they end? What’s next, Lord? Reading Acts chapter 8, we discover that a ferocious persecution has broken out in Jerusalem, making it impossible for most believers to stay safely within the walls of the ‘holy city’. So dangerous that the Bible says they ‘scattered’–fled for their lives. They must have moaned and groaned, whined and complained. Not quite! ‘Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went'(Acts 8:4).
Wherever the dangerous rip-tide of persecution took them, the Word of Jesus went alongside. Boldly they shared the Good News of Jesus. I’m sure they didn’t like being persecuted. None of us likes going through turbulent times. But what they had, and what we have, is the assurance of God’s presence. He is ‘Immanuel’, meaning ‘God with us’.
I remember a time when I was devastated by a committee of my old denomination. Basically, they were telling me to ‘get out of Jerusalem’. And while you’re hightailing it out the door, no more preaching…anywhere, ever again. Get it, buddy? This put me flat on my face. What do I do, Lord?
Attending our weekly pastor’s Bible study, I unloaded my bundle of hurt on them. One of the older members was a pastor of a very small church. Possibly he had attended Bible school for a year. Maybe not. A second career man. Had been a car mechanic beforehand. Me? Graduated second in my class from the Moody Bible Institute(yes, there were more than two students in my class!). Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Three cheers for me! When I told the group what had happened, this older pastor turned to me and asked, ‘did God call you to preach?’ Unequivocally, I said, ‘yes, He did’. He barked at me, ‘Then why do you listen to those people. If God called you to preach, you preach!’ His pointed words were from God’s mouth, through this man’s lips, to my ears. His words changed my life.
I went home and resigned from that old denomination. I started to preach again when asked. For five years I hosted a Christian television program in our area. The icing on the cake? Fourteen years pastor of a lovely church in that same town, the longest serving pastor in their 100+ year history. Now, I’m their Pastor Emeritus! Can you imagine? I couldn’t. What God could do with my deadend situation! Did I love going through it all, and couldn’t wait for the next calamity?! Of course not! But I do love the One who turned those lemons into the best lemonade I’d ever tasted.
Are you going through terrible times? He’s still ‘Immanuel’. God with YOU! The outcome? Hard to say. Leave that to Him. Jesus knows best. He has wonderful surprises ahead for you! Trust me. No. Trust Him!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being with us. We depend upon you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.