Lord, give me eyes to see opportunities, not just threats, and let me depend wholly on you.
The chapter commences with a string of potent threats – Saul’s animosity, Stephen’s murder, terrible suffering, dispersion of the Church, and the incarceration of men and women. But, on verse 4, the passage hinges. What the world means for evil, the Lord turns to good. What is intended as a setback becomes a door for remarkable ministry.
As a result of persecution, the scattered disciples – Philip in particular – go “from place to place telling the good news” (v 4). Without design or strategy, the first believers begin to fulfill Jesus’ mandate to preach the gospel “in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and everywhere in the world” (Acts 1.8).
Philip is sent not only to unorthodox Samaritans, but also to an Ethiopian eunuch. As a result of Philip’s boldness, outsiders experience the kingdom of God via preaching, healing, exorcism, Scripture and baptism (both of water and of the Holy Spirit).
We can draw great encouragement from this text. At the macro level, we simply cannot see what the Lord sees. When western missionaries were expelled from China in 1949, for example, who could have predicted the amazing growth in the Chinese church over the past six decades? Or the impact that redeploying thousands of missionaries would have on nations such as Korea and Vietnam?
On a personal level, we often stop in our tracks when we encounter difficulties. Did you fail to get a promotion? Rather than plunge into despondency, we should ask the Lord for spiritual eyes to see opportunities. Perhaps, we should spend more time with our families. Perhaps, we should pursue additional professional seasoning.
Disappointed in love? Even as our heart aches, we should be asking questions like, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me? How should I change? In what direction are you taking me now?” In physical pain? The Lord used even those potential threats to birth opportunities. When I first learned that I had a rare cancer two years ago, life felt very heavy. But the Lord used my fears to make me more conscious of his presence, more sensitive to others, and more conscious of my human limitations.
How do you view the difficulties that sometimes enter your life? Are they more of a threat than an opportunity? Remind yourself that mere positive thinking won’t make difficulties disappear nor will it negate pain. Rather, we are to take a different path, simultaneously embracing sorrow and joy, the cross and the resurrection.
Ask the Lord to show you opportunities even when you are in a bad situation.
Father, thank you for spreading the good news via persecution; for redeeming good from evil; for undergirding faith through pain; and, for developing our character by means of difficult situations. Give me eyes to see your sovereignty, compassion, and grace.