Thursday, January 3
Joy Amidst Difficulty
Life can be really difficult sometimes. You get a phone call with unexpected bad news, someone hurts you, expectations aren’t met, and the curses of a fallen world weigh on you. During those times, it can be hard to feel like there’s much to be joyful about. That’s the place we find the early Christians, and yet, look at what happens.
So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the word. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds were all paying attention to what Philip said, as they listened and saw the signs he was performing. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
Acts 8:4-8 (CSB)
At this time in church history, Christianity is not only difficult but dangerous. Christians are being imprisoned and as we read only a few verses earlier, some are being killed because of their faith. A man named Saul is ravaging the church and hunting down followers of Jesus like they’re prey. Can you imagine?
Those men and women could have said, “This isn’t safe, this faith isn’t worth the danger.” I’ll bet we would have been tempted to think like that or at the very least, to hide our faith and practice in secret. And yet, in spite, of the terror, those few Christians obeyed God and continued to tell people about Jesus. People were healed, demons were cast out, more people joined the church, and there was great joy in the city. Their faithfulness went beyond their circumstance. It’s the kind of joy that comes from a nearness to God and the eternal security he provides his children. Let’s pray for that joy now.
Father, thank you for promising us a better life to come. Give us courage to obey you, especially when it’s hard, and a deep joy that is unshaken by temporary pain. Give us the faith that outlasts our most difficult circumstances and leads lost people to you. Amen.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.