READING: Job 5-7, Acts 8:1-25
“But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”
Is there someone in your life for whom you’ve been praying to become a believer, but you struggle believing it could ever happen? Intellectually you know that God can save him or her, but honesty requires you to admit that your faith is weak? Perhaps you pray on one hand, but wrestle with doubt on the other hand as you pray for non-believers?
Sometimes that happens simply because we can see the lives of non-believers in front of us – and the rougher a person’s life is, the more difficult it is for us to trust that God will save him or her. Think, for example, about Saul in Acts 8. Because we know the glorious end of the story in his life, it’s easy for us to read this text and just know that God is going to change him. But, imagine what it must have been like for the early believers as they looked at Paul’s life. The summary of his life in Acts 8 is clear and ominous: “And Saul approved of his [Stephen’s] execution. . . . But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:1, 3). I doubt the early believers looked at Paul’s life and thought, “We can’t wait for God to save him so he can become a great leader in our movement.” Instead, they surely dreaded seeing him coming, knowing he was bent toward evil. Some perhaps thought that he was beyond the saving grace of God. We know for certain that Ananias was hesitant to talk to him even after God told him to go to Paul (Acts 9:13). Why would you willingly go to a persecutor who had the blessing of the authorities behind his evil acts?
You go because you believe that God really can – and does – still save even the most unlikely person.
Some years ago, I was blessed to be present as pastor when God saved a man others had named “the meanest man they had ever met in our community.” He was indeed rude, obnoxious, abusive, and just plain mean. When he turned to Christ, his life was radically and dramatically different – so much so that it was difficult to imagine him as the man he once had been. What caught my attention, though, was the number of people who said to me, “Pastor, we can’t believe what’s happened to him” or “We just never really thought he’d change like he has.” They had been praying for him, but apparently wrestling with doubt at the same time. God in His grace responded to their mustard seed of faith and worked a miracle.
Perhaps we will pray with much more faith today because we know that God can take a persecutor like Saul and make him a proclaimer of the Word.
- If you’re struggling believing that God will save someone you know, confess that doubt to Him.
- Pray with more fervor and faith for that friend or loved one to be saved.
PRAYER: “God, I believe you can save. Help my belief.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Job 8-10, Acts 8:26-40