S174P7 – The early Church: emboldened by trial   

Acts 4:23-24a, 31

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.  After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

I will never forget that young man telling his story to a room full of adults who could learn a thing or two from him.  He had been asking for prayer about a bully who teased him mercilessly at school because of his faith.  During one of our Bible studies, we asked him for an update on his prayer request.  He told us that the young man who once was his sworn enemy was now his friend.  We of course asked how that happened when just weeks earlier the other boy hated him.  The young man told us that all he did was keep talking about Jesus and invite the other boy to church.  The more the other boy resisted, the more the young man knew that he had to help him along.

The room broke out in joyous laughter after this confession.  To us adults, it seemed like this young man did what only a child could do.  The opposition he faced only emboldened him to be more vocal.  He intentionally put himself in what most would call harm’s way because he knew he had a great work to do there.  That enemy who would become his friend was no match for the young man’s faith.  It was the same with the early Church and the authority figures who tried to silence them and quench their power.  They did not feel defeated; they did not shrink back.  They pressed in and praised the Lord for his mighty works.  Then, they waited for him to make them even more bold.

When it comes to warfare, you want to bring your enemy to surrender.   The tactic is to strike enough blows and do enough damage that your enemy simply cannot continue.  That is what the powers of darkness want to do to us.  The difference is that we do not wilt from those blows.  Instead of weakening us, they only make us stronger.  The trials do not sap our strength but build it.  What the enemy designs for our downfall already has been ordained by God to raise and build us even further.  We need to recognize that and welcome the trials that build our boldness.  Father, teach us to recognize the value in pressing along further when we face opposition in our work.