“And Saul approved of their killing him.  On that day, a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.  4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts8:1-8) 


            Saul approved of the killing of Stephen.  Those who killed Stephen cast their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.  Chaos broke out against the church in Jerusalem.  Everyone scattered except for the apostles.  People went from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria.  The young man Saul began to destroy the church.  He went from house to house, hunting believers to persecute.  But it did not stop believers from sharing and preaching the gospel. 

            There are times we must learn to thrive even amid unrelenting chaos.  Sometimes we must continue to do what we are called to do, even amid problems and troubles.  As terrible as the situation was, to the point that they were physically abused, they continued to preach and live under severe difficulties.  This is a great lesson of faith and courage.  We are living in this season of the pandemic.  Many believers stop being courageous and motivated to use it as an opportunity to reach those around them who are fearful of the season. 

            Many believers become just like the world around them that controls people with fear.  Though affected by the persecution, the early Church folks kept motivating themselves to preach and use the season to spread hope in Christ.  Nothing can stop us if we don’t let it stop us.  Philip preached the gospel in Samaria and saw people watch with awed by the miracles that happened before their eyes.  The miracles got their attention.  As a result, Philip did not give in to the fear of persecution; he effectively won people to Christ by living courageously and using the situation to turn people around. 

            I learned today that believers are not meant to play it safe or use circumstances to explain why we cannot do anything.   Earlier believers defied difficulties and persecution to advance and not withdraw and hide.  We are meant to live out the life of Jesus, even in perilous situations.  Philip was so effective even in the face of a chaotic situation he was in.  The fantastic outcome of Philip’s courage resulted in GREAT JOY in that city.  There is always hope for those who defy fear and persecution with courage and faith.  


            I am always concerned about problems but have come to understand that problem is only sometimes the problem.  Problems are part of life.  Difficulties and troubles are part of life.  But I want to see problems as a way forward to learn how to navigate and gain the experience necessary to build my faith and trust in God’s truth. 


            Father, thank you that you never meant for our problems to stop us from living and being fruitful even in the midst of it.  Please help me see your purpose and seek your will for every difficulty I face in life.  I look to you for wisdom and courage to do what I cannot do.  Please guide, lead, and teach me your will in every difficulty I face.  Amen!