When God was on the fast track to establish his Church some pretty amazing things occurred. When the Holy Spirit came he came in flames! Ordinary people suddenly were able to speak languages they had never studied and preached the Gospel so that foreigners could understand. People were healed if they walked over Peter’s shadow. And many people found Christ because of it.
Peter and John found themselves in prison for preaching about Jesus. But God wasn’t about to let their voices be silenced. So he picked them up right out of that cell and transplanted them in the middle of town. What must that have been like for the apostles? Better than any Disney ride, I’m sure!
With all this going on, Satan was frantically trying to stop it. He influenced many people who wanted Peter and John dead. He even convinced them they were doing what God wanted by putting an end to this Jesus movement. So they thought they’d teach Peter and John a lesson, scare them into stopping their ministry. They bound the apostles and flogged them. They beat them, tearing into their flesh, causing painful cuts. And you know how the apostles responded? Read Acts 5:41-42. They rejoiced because God had found them worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. And they continued to preach the Gospel every day.
Nobody likes to suffer. We get angry if we are treated unfairly, pout if our feelings are hurt, and want to get even with those who wrong us. Just yesterday a young friend of mine was in a car accident. He was driving home from college when someone ran a stop sign and plowed into the side of my friend’s car. And to make matters worse, the person who hit him fled the scene. My friend was stunned. He was shaken and angry. Why me, he asked? He was following the rules and where did that get him? Bad things always happen to me, he cried.
His older sister said something that fits into what we read today here in Acts. She lovingly told him, “It happened because you are a CHOSEN ONE.” She went on to tell him that trials are a test of our faith and a chance to show Christ to others. And I think that’s what Peter and John would say to him, too. As followers of Christ we have a target on our backs. Satan wants to stop us at all costs. But God can turn any situation around and use it to glorify himself through us.
Are you going through a storm? Are you being treated unfairly because you are a Christian? Rejoice! You are a chosen one to reveal Christ to someone who needs him. God trusts you with this trial. And he is able to see you through to the very end.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my young friend. Continue to work in his life, strengthen his relationship with you, and help him to be a testimony of what a Godly man looks like when faced with hardship. Draw someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus through this situation. And I pray for all of us who are facing Satan’s attacks. May we represent you well. May we trust you with it all. And may we rejoice for the opportunity to suffer for the name of our dear Savior.