Mrs. Calder taught Junior High math. Usually she enjoyed the challenge of getting students excited about math and challenging them to learn. In her fifth period class, though, there were two boys and a girl who were disruptive and obnoxious. They ruined the class for the other students and made teaching an unpleasant chore for her. During her prayer time Mrs. Calder realized that she was asking the Lord to somehow remove these unruly students from her class. The office bully was always trying to pick an argument with Binh about his Christian faith and his Vietnamese heritage. Not a day went by that Binh was not harassed. Binh often prayed that the bully would be transferred to another department or fired.
The disciples and early Christians faced opposition by some of the most powerful people in Israel. Imprisonment and torture were real possibilities for them. It is notable that the early Christians did not pray that the opposition and persecution be taken away. Instead they prayed for the strength to face the opposition and be true to their faith as followers of Jesus.
The early Christians offer us a good example to follow. Hard times and challenges can temper our faith and cause our witness to shine brighter. Like our Christian forbearers, we are challenged not to pray for the elimination of all obstacles, but rather to live boldly and to remain true to our Christian faith in the face of opposition and persecution.
After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers have gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah.’ For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.