We need to trust God with all of our circumstances. But this is often easier said than done, especially when things don’t turn out as we think they ought. Trusting God in the midst of dire situations is difficult. God doesn’t give us what we want when we want it. He doesn’t do things our way. In our timing. In our liking. God doesn’t give us unicorns and endless rainbows. When we struggle, we attempt to take control. And we slowly allow doubt to creep in and hinder our relationships with God.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, WILL YOU TRUST GOD?
Paul traveled to Ephesus during his second missionary trip in AD 60-61 and again on his third. The city of Ephesus housed the temple to the Greek goddess Artemis. She was the goddess of fertility. The many priests employed in the temple performed animal sacrifices, and the many priestesses, in keeping with the fertility theme, engaged in ritual prostitution.
Paul spent years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) and performed “extraordinary miracles” there (v. 11). The Gospel began to change lives, and “a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly . . . . In this way, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (v. 19–20). Many Jews were converting to Christianity.
However, not everyone was happy.
Not everyone was pleased.
There was a man named Demetrius, a silversmith for the temple’s implements of worship. He saw a rapid decline in his market share. So he calls a meeting… “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business [selling Artemis shrines]. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty” (verses 25–27).
In his speech, Demetrius paid lip service to the “majesty” of Artemis, but his real motivation was evident—he was losing business as people stopped buying his idolatrous trinkets.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GO TO GOD
Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen stirred up the city into a riotous frenzy, shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28). They led a mob to find Paul and, not finding him, grabbed two of Paul’s traveling companions and dragged them to the theater. There the mob continued shouting the praise of Artemis for about two hours (v. 34). They were only quieted when the city clerk gained an audience and reminded the mob they were breaking Roman law in disturbing the peace (v. 40).
Paul soon left Ephesus to continue his third missionary journey. But a church was established in the midst of chaos. Even when it looks like God isn’t up to something, He is up to something. We can always trust Him. In the center of Artemis worship, in a city known for paganism, immorality, and greed, the light of Jesus Christ shone brightly. Despite the enemy’s intimidations, a church began.
TOUGH TIMES MIGHT MEAN YOU ARE SMACK DAB IN THE WILL OF GOD
Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians to encourage Gentile believers because they were having a hard time. They were persecuted for their belief in God. Here they are as new believers and they are being blamed for the downturn in the economy. Everyone is turning on them. They are being rejected by family and friends for believing in Jesus, going against the cultural norm. Shunned by the Jewish believers who wanted nothing to do with them. They are the outsiders. Outcast. Rejected. The ones sitting all alone at the lunch table at school. Not asked to prom. Alone when everyone else is posting party pictures on Facebook. Total rejection and ridicule.
You can imagine the inward turmoil. “I thought following Jesus was going to be fun. I thought it would be easy. My life would turn out well. Everything would suddenly run smoothly. I’d be paid well. My kids would listen and excel at school. My husband would love me. I’d be married by now.”
You see, this early church was struggling much like you and I. The expectations they placed on Jesus were falling short. They thought God would fulfill their expectations. And suddenly they find themselves in a downward spiral.
God pushes us into the unknown to test us, “Will we trust Him?” When things don’t turn out as expected, will we allow Him to be God? God often works in the shadows to accomplish something bigger than we can even imagine.
Prayer: Dear God, I️ surrender to you today…my present and my future. You are God. Creator of heaven and earth. The Alpha and the Omega. You are so much bigger than me. Only you know what is best, and I️ can trust your plans. Amen.