The early Christians were in a pinch. God’s Hand was on Peter and John, who had just healed a man lame since birth. To the awestruck crowd, they testified to Jesus Christ – that He was the promised Messiah who alone provides salvation. What did their faithfulness to God win them? Major opposition and restrictions from the powers that be. When the infant church came together to pray on this troubling matter in Acts 4:23-30, they demonstrated three inspiring convictions:
1) God was in complete control of their lives. Period.
2) Their lives were of little value to them; they were squarely focused on
3) They requested God to strengthen them in this trial rather than
deliver them from it.
The unified prayer of the early Christians as they confronted their troubles provides a compelling template for us today. They first recognized God as Creator and worshiped Him as such: You are the one who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. I wonder why they started with this? What does creation have to do with our problems? Everything. God spun the universe into existence and holds it together by the word of His power. Do you think He can handle my situation? Absolutely. The early believers then quoted the Hebrew Scriptures, reminding themselves that God promised tough times in relation to His Messiah. Their prayer reflected their deep reverence of God as creator, as well as an awareness of their times. “God, you’ve warned us of these things. You’ve got everything under control. You created the heavens and can help us here.” What a perspective!
With this wonderful approach to the problem at hand, the finishing touch lies in the request they made. They did not ask God to take this trial away: Grant that your servants may speak your message with boldness. Wow! Did you catch that? They didn’t run from their difficulties but ran to the One who provides the strength needed to thrive under pressure. They believed what God had already said: He created it all and He’s in control; tough times will come, but He will surely help us when we call on Him. They asked Him to help them be courageous and bold witnesses to Him, because therein lies the meaning of life: to know Him and make Him known.
We face trials of all stripes in our lives. Before you ask God “WHY?”, ask Him how He can be glorified in your challenge. Ask Him to give you the grace you need to not only survive but to thrive. Christian faith is defined in the New Testament as an overcoming faith. Your situation did not catch Him by surprise. He is the architect of creation; He can solve your problems. He created the universe, His strength is sufficient. He predates the world as well as your challenges. Trust Him fully as the One who is not only in control of your life, but the One who reigns over the universe. Christ shed His precious blood for us so that we might live for righteousness: His agenda, not ours. The perspective the first Christians had as they prayed through their fiery trial is a wonderful example to us for many of the trials we face today.
- Pastor Colin