John 7:30 – At this they tried to seize Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His time had not yet come. (NIV)
Recently, I read the testimony of a Christian woman from Nigeria whose relatives, a dedicated pastor, his wife, and one of their sons, had been brutally killed when violence broke out in a religious riot in 2004. Two other sons, aged 11 and 13, survived. One of the boys was seriously injured while trying to escape, while his brother ran in a different direction and was unharmed. The militants left the injured boy, whom they believed to be dead, and he was able to get help from a nearby Christian community. Both boys are doing well today, and their aunt, whose testimony I read, has adopted them, trusting that it is God's will to care for them and that He will graciously provide for all their needs.
This amazing story reminded me of several occasions in Scripture when Jesus' enemies tried to kill Him but were unable to lay a hand on Him, simply because His time had not yet come. Today's verse refers to a time when Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. Other instances occurred in Nazareth, His hometown, when the synagogue people tried to throw Him down the cliff, but He walked right through the crowd; and in Jerusalem, when the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy, but He hid Himself and slipped away. The apostle Paul had a similar experience when he was stoned and left for dead during his mission trip to Iconium.
I have often wondered why some Christians are given so little time to serve Christ, while others live long enough to accomplish many things for Him. Like the two boys in this story, many have survived under the most incredible circumstances. We may not have all the answers, but we do know that God has a plan for each of us, and His timing is always perfect.
John 21:21-22 – When Peter saw [John], he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (NIV)
Following Jesus is exactly what these surviving young boys plan to do. One of them has already expressed a desire to become a pastor like his dad, and he, too, is willing to die for his faith if necessary. This inspiring story is a message of love and grace, of blessing through tragedy. Many times, through suffering, God will accomplish His purpose in our lives, and in His time, we will reap His eternal rewards.
Prayer: Lord, we thank You that our lives belong to You, and whether we live or die, we are safely in Your hands. Help us to serve You with faithful hearts until the time that our purpose on this earth has been fulfilled. Amen.