Reading from the Book of Acts 11:19-21
Acts 11:19 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.
“Why would God let this happen to me?” This is a familiar question, and probably a quite common one among the Christians who fled from the persecution led by Saul. They had heard the message of Jesus, either directly from Him or from one of His disciples, and they had believed and accepted their salvation. But their bright, new life in Jesus turned sour quickly when faced with the hatred of the Jews and the non-believers around them. They were beaten… they were persecuted… they were killed… all for believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Those that were not killed ran away… as far away as they could get to find safety. Uprooted from the only homes they had ever known… living as aliens in pagan cities far from home… isolated… afraid for their lives… it would not be surprising to hear them ask, "Why would God let this happen to me? All I wanted to do was to follow Him."
So many times, you and I are faced with the same kind of situation. A person comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus and finds himself basking in the loving Light of the World. He is walking on air, filled with the joy he has found in Jesus. Then disaster strikes. His house burns. Or he loses his job. Or his wife leaves him. Or a child is injured or killed. Or he has an automobile accident. Or a long list of other, lesser problems keeps cropping up. It would be very natural – and is often the case – that this person would ask, "Why would God let this happen to me? All I wanted to do was to follow Him."
Let's take a look at what happened with those early Christians. Yes, they were uprooted and scattered throughout the known world. Why? Jesus had told them to go to all nations and teach. He, Himself, had covered quite a bit of that ground, going as far as Samaria, which was populated by Greeks (Mark 5:1-20), and preaching to Romans (Luke 7:1-10). But what had the disciples done as soon as Jesus ascended? They sat down on their blessed assurance in Jerusalem – and stayed there! Oh, they ventured out a little to some of the surrounding cities, but in general, they pretty much stayed in the neighborhood. God wanted the Gospel spread to all of the world. As such, He allowed the persecution to happen… quite possibly so that the Christians would be scattered. Since they hadn't gone out on their own, He made sure they did what He said by forcing them out in fear for their lives.
In every trial that you and I face, there is a lesson to be learned and a part of God’s purpose in us to be accomplished. Perhaps it's the best way He has of getting you where he wants you to go!
James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.