One of the hard realities of our walk with God is that He uses and constructs ALL events in our life to further His Gospel through us. I know this because Romans 8:28 tells me that very thing. What it means is that God uses the good and the bad to grow and mature us for good!
Let me share a story from scripture that illustrates this point clearly. As the early church was beginning to grow and impact the world, it faced many trials and crisis. One such crisis occurs in Acts chapter 7. It is in that very chapter that we see the stoning of Stephen. Stephen is seen here speaking to the “leaders” of the synagogue. They had summoned him to come and speak to them because they were enraged by him. In chapter 6 they are quoted as being unable to withstand the wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke. Stephen came and spoke of the history of God’s people. He reminded them that they, in fact, throughout history had rejected God and his servants. He recounts how they had made idols to worship instead of God, how they had rejected the warning of the prophets and turned from the law. Stephen closes his speech with these words:
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."
This incited a rage that lead to the immediate stoning/murder of Stephen by these men. They did exactly what Stephen had just confronted them about! They rejected the message God was sending. Among these men was Saul, the man we all know as the Apostle Paul. He is said in Chapter 8 to have approved of the execution of Stephen. He was a “leader” persecuting the church. But, this very crisis would be a turning point for the entire history of the church and Christians.
This spiteful man, Saul, is found in chapter 9 pursuing letters from the chief “leaders” of the synagogue to find and try Christians for heresy. On his journey, via the road to Damascus, the Lord appears to him. He speaks to him as “the One Saul is persecuting”. He tells him to go and see Ananias in Damascus who will explain the Gospel to him. When it was over Saul was blind for 3 days but did as God commanded. In the end he was truly converted to follow Jesus, and he changed his name to Paul as a symbol of his heart’s change. (Sometimes we need a name change to break from the past and distance us from our sins!)
In Chapter 9 we see Paul (the dude formerly known as Saul) begin to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues and public places. He was doing he thing he set out to destroy. He became the men he was out to murder and silence. God radically changed him.
We see more of the effects of the murder of Stephen in Chapter 11 starting in verse 19. It states that many had been scattered by the murder of Stephen. They went and began to share the Gospel. As a result the church grew. Because of the moment of crisis, God grew His church. We see this growth continue throughout the book of Acts. God used the death of one man to impact the lives of millions. Today we have the bulk of the New Testament as a result of Paul’s conversion and the growth of the church. Paul authored the majority of the New Testament. Were it not for crisis, it would not be!
The question is, what in your life is the moment of crisis?
Have you recognized that moment of crisis? Do you realize that God can use that for His good? Do you know that God can use it for your good?