Verse: Acts 11:19-21
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
I'm not a church history expert, but I do know that often when the church has been persecuted, it has resulted in reaching more people with the Gospel message of salvation. This is what we see in Acts 11. Stephen is martyred, and the disciples have to flee. But this doesn't end up being a "win" for the people trying to stop Christianity. No. It just means there are more Christians in more places. They scattered, but they kept "spreading the word."
As I read this passage this morning, I was struck by how often this can be true in our lives as well. Are you going through a difficult time in your life right now? Do you feel disconnected from other Christians? Do you feel discouraged in your faith? Do you feel like it's really hard to be a Christian right now?
Maybe in this time of frustration and difficulty, God is about to do something in your life. He often uses the hard times of life to bring profound growth in our character. Who knows what he is doing in your life through this time? Maybe he wants to teach you something new about his character - maybe he wants to draw close to you in a way you've never known before. Or maybe, like the early Christians, he wants to use you even in your pain to show God's love to others.
In my experience, often the pain I have gone through ends up being some of God's greatest tools that he can use for ministering to others. It's hard to see when you are in the hard time, but I hope this passage can be encouraging to you today. There is hope. Even when things seem to be falling apart (imagine how the disciples felt after Stephen was killed and they were essentially chased from their homes!) God still has a plan and is working in your life. Nothing can defeat him in your life. Hold onto that.
Even though life is frustrating right now God, I ask for you to draw near to me and show me how you are using this time in my life.