Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Sometimes, they go horribly wrong. The end of Acts 7 was one such time. Stephen, having spoken before the Council, angered a few people and was stoned to death. This was a major moment for the early church. To this point, there had been some persecution – people brought before the Council getting beaten and threatened – but nothing large scale, and certainly nothing that ended in a person’s death. With the martyrdom of Stephen, all that was changed.

Stephen’s death was a spark that set the persecution fire ablaze. Acts 8 opens by saying that a “great wave of persecution began that day.” Saul – who we will come to know as Paul – was leading the charge. He stood there approving of Stephen’s death, and then started rooting out believers, throwing them in jail because of their beliefs. And yet, in the midst of this horrible time, something happened. The believers expanded their circle.

We are told in particular of one person, Philip, who goes to Samaria and begins preaching about Jesus. People listened. Hearts were changed. The Church grew. Was it an ideal situation? Certainly not, but it does go to show that God can work even when the dark clouds are forming all around us.

Where are those dark clouds in your life? Where is it that you are in desperate need of a silver lining? Don’t worry. God is with you through it all. There is a silver lining.