(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)
There are people waiting to be blessed on the other side of your adversity.
In Acts 8:1-4, the persecution caused God’s people to flee but when they relocated, no matter where they were scattered, they STILL preached the Word. As a result, people on the other side of where they had escaped to, accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour and therefore got blessed.
What God’s people went through was certainly not pleasant. After all, they had to leave where they were living and run away because of the threat of death over their heads. Stephen, their fellow believer, had just been stoned to death based on Saul’s instructions and now, he (Saul) was after them too!
Yet, when they got to the other side of their location, the Lord had people waiting who were receptive to the gospel. The scripture reads:
- “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
In Acts 13:49-51 and 14:1-22, something similar happened. Paul (previously Saul but now converted) and Barnabas fled from assault to Iconium and then from Iconium to places like Lystra, Derbe and Lycaonia but yet, STILL continued to preach the gospel and guess what? In Lystra, there just so ‘happened’ to be a man who was crippled from birth, who just so ‘happened’ to hear Paul speak and got his healing.
This then set the platform (due to attention being drawn to Paul and Barnabas as a result of the miracle worked), for the preaching of the gospel. So wonderful was the result of such preaching, that when Paul later returned to Lystra and also Iconium in verses 21 and 22, there were people there who had received the good news of Jesus Christ and were now disciples.
The scriptures read:
- “And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium…And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren…And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about And there they preached the gospel.
- And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
- And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
- And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
In these examples, God’s providence was mightily at work, even through the persecution and the adversity.
Notice especially, that these people who had to flee for their lives and endured all sorts of adversity, did not sit in a corner and become bitter and say, “Look what God has allowed to happen in my life!” They maintained a positive attitude and spread the gospel no matter what or how they felt.
As Christians, we have a duty to preach the gospel in ALL circumstances. Self-absorption is a trap to make us lose our focus.
We are kept on earth after Salvation, not for our own comfort but to preach the Word in season and out of season, to grow spiritually, to be a blessing to others and ultimately, for it all to bring GLORY to God.
In Luke 8:22-33, Jesus gave a commandment to his disciples, that they should go to the other side of the lake. However, in the midst of it, while he (Jesus) was asleep, a storm of wind arose, so much so that the ship was full of water and their lives seemingly in jeopardy. The disciples in a panic, awoke Jesus hastily and he calmed the storm.
They then arrived at the other side, just as he had said they would and as they did so, there just so ‘happened’ to be a man waiting there, who was possessed and in need of deliverance. Jesus worked a miracle and delivered him, so much so, that although he previously lived among the tombs and the mountains and cried night and day, cutting himself with stones, the people of that place now saw him “…sitting and clothed, and in his right mind…” (Mark 5:15)
Mark 4 and 5, in speaking of the same incident stated at chapter 4:35- 5:2:
- “And the same day, when the even was come, he (Jesus) saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side…And there arose a great storm of wind and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm…And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.”
What can we learn from these examples?
I personally have learned in life that when you are going through whatever you may be going through, it may be awfully painful but it is not always about you. It may well be about the souls that are waiting on the other side of your trial.
Maybe you have a message that will bring them healing or maybe you have a message whereby those who are already saved, can be edified and their faith strengthened, as a result of what you have been through.
Let God have his way. As difficult as the storm you may be going through is, as much as you hate adversity, go through it. It is not about your comfort but about HIS Kingdom business.
Always remember, that there are people waiting on the other side, for your testimony of grace and of salvation through Jesus Christ.
(Written on 24th June, 2017)