In 1997 a very gifted Christian pastor detailed questions we ask God: “Take the case of someone who is extremely effective in some particular branch of Christian work. He is the one who gets sick or dies. Do you find yourself asking, ‘Why that one, Lord? There are all sorts of Christians you could dispense with. Why take the one that is so valuable?’” This great writer and communicator was Dr. James Montgomery Boice. Three short years from writing that passage, Dr. Boice suddenly died of an aggressive type of liver cancer. Why do things happen when they do?
That is exactly the question the early Christians had to be asking as their world was upended in Acts chapters 7 & 8. Stephen, the man who was earlier described as “full of God’s grace and power” is brought before his enemies. Stephen gives an absolutely beautiful reply to his accusers in chapter 7 and the response from his audience is that they stone Stephen to death. How is that for audience response??Chapter 8 then launches in recounting the monumental disaster which came upon the believers. A “great persecution broke out against the church” and believers “were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” People already in great shock regarding the loss of Stephen had to at the same time escape for their lives from their new star persecutor: Saul, whose goal in life was to decimate the church. The cartload of woes was overflowing! Can you hear the questions being voiced by the early believers as they saw their known world turning on a dime? These new believers had to quickly adapt to a “new normal”.
How does what you are experiencing during this worldwide pandemic transfer into this biblical context? God used absolutely everything for His glorious plan in the Book of Acts. Through a huge tragedy the believers had to take flight for their lives. However, as the church began to spread out, it grew and grew in converts under extremely adverse conditions. Cherry on top was that Saul the Murderer, was transformed into Paul the Apostle in Acts 9. How is that for the tables being turned? God turned adversity into victory on a dime…..
God rarely explains himself; however, God is trustworthy. In the midst of all the present world conditions and COVID19, God can use all of this to draw even the hardest hearts to Himself. Will you permit your “new normal” to be reframed into “God’s normal”? The early Christians discovered extraordinary outcomes when they permitted God to enter their darkest night.
Jacqui Stoner is a committed Christ follower has a great love of people, passion for communicating, and she treasures creativity. She is a Christian Life Coach, helping women to lean toward the best version of themselves so they can maneuver thru life transitions and feel whole and find joy again with their “new normal”. You can find her at https://leaningforwardwithjoy.com/ As you can tell, life is never boring with Jacqui.