Posted by Jaci Velasquez on 5 May 2017

Scripture: Acts 8:1-8

‘Saul Ravages the Church’. It doesn’t sound like much of a victory, does it? What on earth could there be to praise God about in an episode like this?

It’s true, Acts 8 takes us to the point in the story that follows the first real low-point in the history of the early church. Things had been going well until the religious authorities decided that enough was enough. The forces of conservatism cracked down, and in murdering Stephen they spread fear and terror. Can you imagine their fear?

With Saul leading the assault, and the tears still fresh on their cheeks, they scattered through the area. But instead of keeping their heads down, instead of admitting defeat and settling for a quiet life, they kept up the preaching and praying wherever they went.

This tale of Philip's arrival in a new Samaritan city shows the strength of his character. He's back to business and straight down to work. The result? The general chaos of Godly activity and that all important presence of 'great joy in that city'.

There are so many paradoxes in and around Christianity, and here's just one. With failure staring us in the faith, with grief still weighing down our hearts, the good stuff can still go on. Does this mean that God doesn't care? Is Jesus unconcerned by the things that trouble us? No way. He comforts, understands and grieves along with us. But pain and sorrow is never the end of the story. Death is not the finish line.

And here’s another of those paradoxes: we can praise God with our songs, but what really counts is the way we live our lives. And there’s no better time to let our actions speak of God’s goodness than when we’re facing trouble. The saints roar loudest when the storm is at its fiercest.

That doesn’t mean we adopt fake smiles and pretend things are OK when deep down we’re really hurting. Let’s be real with God. Let's be honest about our feelings, but let’s never close our hearts to the fact that he is always – always – at work.

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