Thursday, January 10

Everything Happens for a Reason

Acts 16:13-15

On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there. A God-fearing woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

While only a few verses, we learn a great deal about Lydia from the text. Found praying with other women on the Sabbath, she was God-fearing, a business woman living away from home, open to God’s urging and the prompting of the Holy Spirit, quick to respond, obedient, and hospitable. But hers was a story that could have easily never happened.

As Paul and Luke were traveling and sharing the Gospel, Philippi wasn’t on the itinerary. In fact, there were several places in which the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go. But, after a vision in a dream of a man pleading “Come over to Macedonia and help us,” Paul gathered his team and headed to Philippi. And, when Paul and Luke gathered at the river to pray on the Sabbath, they encountered a group of women that included Lydia. A woman among women, on the outskirts of town, in a foreign land—it was not natural circumstance but providence that she would hear the Gospel.

It’s often easy to look back on our lives and see how a seemingly simple or necessary decision in one area of our lives had significant, far-reaching consequences in another and see God working in the midst. Perhaps a job change led to a move where we met our spouse or the loss of a job that kept us from church on Sunday mornings became the not-so-subtle nudge we needed to pursue a new opportunity that is fulfilling and allows us to worship with our church family. In an effort to make sense of our circumstances, we might acknowledge the sovereignty of God in phrases like “everything happens for a reason” or “we were in the right place at the right time” but still fail to accept the fullness of His Promise. However, in Lydia, we see not a shallow thankfulness but a full Gospel-focused response—evangelism and radical hospitality.

Father, thank you for Lydia and her story. May she be a reminder to us that you are sovereign over all things, and that your timing is perfect.

Lisa BieryComment