Aeneas had been paralysed for 8 years, completely dependent on others for all his needs. Tabitha had been devoted to the works of the gospel and yet suddenly died. Both experienced suffering, a fundamental aspect of living in this fallen world – suffering that can remain this case, even though we lean into God. We should not interpret suffering as God’s disfavour.
Peter travels through their towns, bringing healing – resurrection, emulating the ministry of Christ. And this profound witness, showing God’s care, results in many putting their faith in Jesus. This gift of healing turns our attention, in the suffering, to the One who can bring relief from the suffering or comfort in the suffering.
Paul’s original mission to persecute Christians, was so well known that his change of heart caused great confusion. This confusion quickly turned into murderous intent. But Paul now considered it a privilege to suffer and be persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Paul understood what he had been saved from. He valued the treasure that he had received: a relationship with Christ and the gift of eternal life and redemption. This drove his passion to preach and share his new faith.
Luke paints a beautiful picture of the transformation of Paul’s life through the direct revelation of Christ. In this, God answered the martyr Stephen’s prayer (chapter 7) not to hold the persecutors’ sin against them. No matter how bleak the situation, we should never underestimate how God responds to faithful prayers. The person who once hated and despised Jesus would now learn to call him ‘Lord’; to receive Jesus as his own Saviour.