“Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death ... Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.” Acts 8:1-3 NASB
Imagine how the Christians in Jerusalem must have felt. For a time they had experienced growth and blessings. But the atmosphere had changed and they became hunted and hounded.
There was a “great” persecution, particularly through the ruthless actions of Saul, who imprisoned many believers, and threatened and even killed some (Acts 9:1). Later he admitted that he had persecuted the church beyond measure and tried to destroy it (Galatians 1:13).
Huddled in their homes, many believers must have wondered if they would be the next victims. Saul must have seemed to embody their worst fears. But, as Saul was traveling to persecute believers in Damascus, “suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” He heard Jesus speak to him. His life instantly was changed. The church’s greatest persecutor became its greatest defender and advocate.
In hindsight, we can see that God had been using Saul’s persecution campaign to prepare him for a world-changing ministry. As those Christians prayed, they could not have realized just how perfectly God timed His answer. For them, it might have seemed to have taken too long, but we can see His plans unfold and realize that He acted at just the right time.
Every day, we can wonder if God’s help ever will arrive or how long we will have to endure difficulties. But the Bible tells us that He hears our prayers and knows what we are going through. He waits for the right time, when the preparations are completed.
When you face challenges, remember these early believers. Don’t allow your life to be dominated by doubt or fear. Have faith, and remain faithful. God knows what you are going through. Be confident, and trust in Him.
PrayerFather, I commit these needs to You: __________. I believe You will act at the right time. I will stay faithful with the time, talent, and treasure you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Pray for Christians who are being persecuted around the world.
Extended ReadingActs 8