God Knows…When I Do Right and Still Have Problems – Part 1
It’s a fact of life: Bad things often happen to good people. All over the world and through all of history, people have asked: Why? Why do others give us a rough time when we refuse to lie and cheat? Why do we meet up with teasing or ridicule when we decide to read and see and hear only what is pure and good? Why do followers of Jesus still have problems?
Let’s look in on Peter and John again. Remember, they had been told to stop talking about Jesus. Their reply was “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So they kept on with their work: “With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14). The disciples were pleased that people were listening to the story of Jesus. But the national leaders were NOT happy. They arrested the disciples and put them in prison!
That night, while all was quiet and dark, God sent a special visitor to the prison. “an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people’” (Acts 5:19-20).
So in the early morning the apostles bravely returned to the Temple to start teaching again. Meanwhile, the high priest and the rest of the council members gathered for the trial. Word was sent to the prison to have the prisoners brought.
Off marched the officers to the prison. Guards were keeping watch at the doors. Those in charge unlocked the strong prison doors. Imagine their shock at finding the inner cell empty!
The council members were baffled. Soon they received a second report: “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
Off went the captain and his men to haul the disciples in again. “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name,” grumbled the high priest, “And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine!” This was exactly what Jesus had told them to do in Acts 1:8—their faithful work was succeeding.
Peter and the others had a ready answer. “We must obey God rather than men.” Fearlessly they spoke from first-hand knowledge. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. We are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit.”
When the council members heard this, they became so furious they decided to kill the disciples then and there. But one man named Gamaliel stood up and reasoned with the council members. “Consider carefully what you decide to do with these men,” he urged. “If this undertaking is from men, it will soon fail; but if it’s from God, you can’t stop it. You might be found fighting against God.” In other words, fighting against the disciples was either needless or hopeless.
Reluctantly the council agreed. They told the disciples not to preach any more and let them go, but not before each was given a beating. The bruised and aching disciples left the council “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching about Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:41-42).
God is able to remove problems—He sent an angel to let the disciples out of prison.
God doesn’t remove all problems—He allowed the council to give the disciples a hard time, arresting, questioning, and beating them.
God does promise inner peace—“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). A special kind of joy comes from following in the footsteps of Jesus, even along the path of suffering.
“In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned. Tribulation means suffering, trials. To the end of time the struggle between right and wrong will go on. Satan puts hatred and cruelty everywhere that he can.
Everyone has troubles of one kind or another. The difference for the follower of Jesus is that he has help to deal with them. He is never left to face them all alone. He also knows he can look for an end to Satan’s cruel rule. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
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