[After the death of Stephen,] 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.
— Acts 8:4-8 NLT
Let that last sentence fall like refreshing rain on parched soil: "So there was great joy in that city."
Out of Stephen's horrific death, the Jerusalem followers of Jesus were scattered as persecution mounted against them. Despite the agonies these believers endured, they shared the Good News of Jesus wherever they went. The result of this heroic evangelism? Joy! I am reminded of the words of the psalmist:
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
The early disciples knew they carried an unstoppable message of a Messiah who conquered death. Yes, they experienced weeping, but the joy of the Lord reawakened them to their mission!
O Father, may my generation of your people experience the joy of salvation and refuse to let anything stop us from sharing the Good News of Jesus' triumph over death. Holy Spirit, come fill us with your reassuring presence and empower us to make a difference in our world for Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.