“And Saul was consenting unto [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”Acts 8:1-4
There have been points in my life when I felt hopeless. I did not think things could possibly get worse and then they did. I would pray for a check in the mail and would receive a bill instead. I would write my first love and would not receive a letter back. In each of these moments, I could not see hope, but those were my feelings and not reality.
I remember a time when I was fired from a place at which I thought I would work forever, but God had other plans. I looked for jobs during that time and seemed to fill out hundreds of applications. I went on interviews that I thought I did well on, but I received no call backs or job offers. I thought I would never be employed again, but God used that time in my life to teach me many things. Rebekah made a list of the things God taught us during that time, and I still refer to it. I was out of a work for only six weeks, but at the time it seemed like an eternity. God used my unemployment to teach me that my hope was in Him and not in my job. My value was based on Him and not in the money I earned or title I held.
I think of these early Christians and the hopelessness they must have felt. The church was going through great persecution and their leader Stephen was just martyred for the cause of Christ. At that time, Saul (who later became Paul) was wreaking havoc on the church. Christians were forced to go their separate ways, but God was at work in the midst of it all. He used the persecution of His church to spread the word, and He used it for His glory. The world was changed by the gospel and God provided hope among the chaos. Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Where are you today friend? Do you feel hopeless or do you feel God has abandoned you? Do you realize He has a good plan for your life? Do you thank Him for what He is teaching you through the struggles of life? Do you realize your hope is in Him? Have you come to realize that He is the same God in the storm as He is in the calm sea? May we look to Him for our hope and may we allow Him to fulfill His will in us. The times may seem uncertain, but rest assured, God is always in control and He is our hope for now and evermore, Amen!