Stephen was a man who was killed for his beliefs. This caused chaos in his surroundings, and the result made it seem as if his enemies had won. But what really happened?
He was just finishing declaring boldly the controversial truth, and he could see the anger flashing in the eyes of the people in front of him. The crowd started to cry out with anger, a frightful scene to see. Beads of sweat started rolling down his solemn face. Strong he stood, in front of the furry raging. Then a man grabbed him violently, and another pulled him to the side. He began to be pushed and hit. The furious crowd led him out of the city. His body was shaking, but his spirit was at peace. Then a man picked a large rock and threw it violently at him. It took him a second to feel the throbbing pain in his forehead and the warm liquid slowly descending on his face. But a second later, another rock hit him and another, and another. The pain was overwhelming, but on the inside, he was strong. When he felt like he could no longer stand, he dropped to his knees and cried out to God: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” after that, he died.
Imagine this person being your close friend, or your sibling, or your colleague. Imagine how traumatizing this must have been for those who lived and fellowshipped with Stephen every day. The violence did not stop there though, the Bible says that on this day, a great persecution broke against the church in Jerusalem, and that every single believer fled (except for the apostles). They were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
Now we can chose to see this with the lenses of defeat, and think “Oh my, how terrible! Wasn’t God with him? How come he didn’t bring him back to life or something?” To be fair, it was terrible, and God could have done these things, but he chose not to. Let’s try again, but with the lenses of faith, “Oh my, didn’t Jesus say that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth?” Acts 8:4 tells us, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” Jesus’ prophecy was being accomplished through it all. Though they were afraid, and displaced, they trusted God. It may have been chaotic, but what happened next was nothing short of beautiful, the salvation of many!
People were not comfortable, but that’s where God worked. You may be going through something very difficult and asking yourself: “Why Lord?” You may even think you did something to deserve it, hey, maybe you didn’t. Truly, there might be something far greater that God is going to accomplish.
Trusting God is also accepting that things might not work the way we want it to work, and that the outcome may not be on our terms, but God is infinitely wiser than us, and he cares about us. He can give us peace beyond our understanding of the current situation, if we’ll just lay it down in prayer.
Can you recognize the beautiful chaos in your life? What does God want to do with your situation? Is he teaching you something? Where do you fit into his bigger plan for mankind? Share your thoughts and prayer requests with us in the comments below!