In Acts 8, we see God using suffering and persecution for the advancement of the Gospel…….look at verse 4, “Therefore”—that is, because of the persecution, “those who had been scattered went about preaching the Word.”
Bible commentators point out that there are different words for “scattered” in Greek. One means dispersed so that the item is gone from that point on. This is not the word used in Acts 8. The word used here means, scattered in order to be planted. The disciples were scattered as a result of persecution. But, as a result, the Christian community became planted in many places where they would proceed to “preach the Word” and see the church grow.
As John Stott points out, “(the devil’s) attack had the opposite effect to what he intended. Instead of smothering the gospel, persecution succeeded only in spreading it.”(Stott, Acts, 146).
We have seen this happening in China, where there has been phenomenal growth in the church, even as it has experienced intense persecution.
Brother Yun, author of the international best-selling book, “Heavenly Man” , has an incredibly powerful testimony of God’s presence with him during times of persecution in China. He has a new book just published, which contain reflections and sermons. The following is an excerpt from, “Living Water.”
“…After my first arrest, I was thrown in prison and treated very cruelly by the guards and my cellmates. At the beginning, I didn’t understand what was going on. I was confused and cried out to God, as though there had been some kind of mistake. ‘Oh, Lord,’ I cried, ‘do You realize I am in sitting here in prison? Have You forsaken me?’ Soon the Lord showed me that He had certainly not forsaken me, but that my arrest and imprisonment were His will for my life and His calling for me at that time. The Bible declares that God loves the entire world, and Jesus commanded His followers to take the good news into the entire world. The world includes Chinese prisons, where there are thousands of desperate men who need to know Jesus. That is where the Lord chose to send me so that I could be a witness to His truth and grace.
When this understanding became a reality in my life, my whole attitude and perspective was completely transformed. Now, instead of feeling resentment for my situation, I was joyful and thankful! Instead of being depressed and confused, I was full of praise to the Lord….
…When the Lord showed me all these things, I made a steadfast commitment that I would always praise Jesus, regardless of my cirucmstances or situation…King David also learned the power of praise during his darkest moments. The Psalms record how David worshipped the Lord even though people were plotting to murder him. David understood the power of praising God, even while under tremendous pressure and danger. He was able to declare, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth’ (Ps 34:1). Later in the same psalm, he dips into his personal experience and shares, ‘A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken’ (Ps. 34:19-20)……
… The challenges in your life are real, but Jesus is the truth! If you will learn to praise Jesus Christ regardless of your circumstances, you will find inner freedom and joy, and you will have the strength to overcome whatever you are faced with….”.