In Acts 18:1-17, a lot of people feel God’s “frowning providence.” They face suffering, sometimes for Christ’s sake; other times they’re just caught up in evil that is being perpetrated in general. But, in this chapter we see God’s purposes ripening as he sovereignly works through their distress to build his kingdom.
Acts 16:11, 16-34. In every circumstance, we have the same choice: how to respond. Will we believe that God is good, that his sovereign grace is present with us even in the difficulties of life? Are we willing to believe this in spite of our circumstance, or will our circumstances determine what we believe? Don’t answer this question too quickly–let it trouble you for a few days as you consider your response.
Jesus was the incarnation of divine love but it was not the sloppy notion of love that we often hear about today. When he instructed the disciples to love one another he knew it was a difficult assignment that would involve complicated choices. When he said that God was a loving heavenly father who would provide only good gifts to his children, he really meant it but his definition of ‘good’ and our idea of ‘the good life’ are often quite dissimilar. He did not promise that loving one another and being loved by God would solve the problem of suffering. When Jesus was about to leave this earth he told the disciples that their life would not be a rose garden. Here is the stark reality: loving God and loving people actually produces suffering. How is that good news? The words of Jesus are always good news but they are not always easy.
Pastor Dan Waugh considers God’s word to us from Isaiah 9:1-7 in light of the collision this past week of Christmas cheer and human suffering. Isaiah reminds us that our hope is in God and his Rescuer, not in some vain notion of human goodness.