S (Scripture) – Acts 8:1-4 “Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging of men and women, he would put them in prison. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”
O (Observation) – Lord, the persecution that was meant for evil to eradicate the Name of Jesus from this earth is precisely the means used to proclaim His Name to the uttermost parts of the earth. Perhaps Saul believed that allowing Stephen to be martyred would set an example for the rest of the members early church. Maybe Saul believed that the fear he instilled in followers of Jesus would shut them down completely. But, that’s not how it went down. Instead of quenching the flame of the early church, Saul fanned it and actually caused it to spread like wildfire. This flame could not be contained by any man.
A (Application) – Sometimes, things that happen to us seem unfair. They may seem like attacks, and we pray against anything that may cause us discomfort or pain. Romans 8:28 tells us that, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Sometimes we are attacked. Sometimes evil invades our lives, and we are confronted with circumstances that don’t line up with what we think should be happening to us. Through it all, may we know that we are never alone (He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. Deuteronomy 31:6), and that despite the pain and frustration of the moment, our God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). He is able to turn our test into a testimony, our pain into our pulpit, a mess into a message, a trial into a triumph, and a victim into a victory. What is meant to be evil, God redeems for good (Genesis 50:20). May we not be so consumed by our brokenness that we miss our Creator’s ability to put together a masterpiece stained glass window with the pieces of our lives – one that when the sunlight beams through is far more beautiful than anything we can imagine.
P (Prayer) – Precious Jesus, only You can pick up shattered pieces of pain and bring restoration to our souls. May we not find ourselves in the pit wondering where You have gone if we are in desperate situations. Rather, don’t let us forget that You are right there with us, with Your arms wrapped around us, ready to help us catch our breath and stand up again. Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness.