A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city. (NLT)
We must never call a bad thing “good”. But we may recognise a bad thing can result in a good thing. A horrible tragedy may bring about a fervent faith. A severe setback may lead to an amazing advance. That doesn’t mean we close our eyes to the bad or the evil and piously praise the Lord. It means we discern a deeper movement, a wider horizon.
This is just what happened after the martyrdom of Stephen. No one can call that good or even God ordained. But we may all call it as a terrible event that was used by God to advance his good purposes. Because of the wicked persecution, believers scattered. And because they scattered, more and more people came to hear the good news of Jesus. Good came out of bad. God’s good plans were not thwarted by human evil.
It seems God did not step in and stop Stephen his servant and witness being unjustly stoned to death. It seems God does not step in and wipe out all the bad intentions of the people he made and loves. But it also seems God will always have the last word. Praise God not for the bad things that happen to you or those you love. Praise him instead for the good he continues to do in the midst of the bad.