"Good" problems...isn't that an oxymoron?
I've been reading Acts 6:1-7 over and over again this week as I prepare to preach from this text on Sunday at New Beginnings. Here we see that the early church has exploded numerically as literally thousands of people have confessed their sins and believed in Jesus of Nazareth as the crucified and risen Messiah. In 6:1 we read, "Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews not from around Jerusalem) arose against the Hebrews (Aramaic speaking Jews from the Jerusalem area) because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution" (ESV). What we see here is a conflict and its cause. The number of disciples in Jerusalem at this point, just a few months after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, had risen to perhaps as many as 20,000. With so many people coming to faith, and with so many needs due to harsh conditions and a lack of means, the apostles faced what could have amounted to the first church split. A certain group's widows were being neglected and something had to be done.
Clearly this was a problem. But, how was it a "good" problem? [If you want a verse-by-verse exegesis of this passage, feel free to join us this Sunday at New Beginnings. We meet at 10:30 AM...ha!] Rather than looking at this conflict from a merely a human perspective, try to think about what God intended for His precious community of children.
Romans 8:28, a familiar verse to many people, reads, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Here's the deal: Sometimes God purposefully allows trials and problems to come our way so that we will learn valuable lessons which in time will bring God more glory. Simply because something is "hard" or "a problem", does that necessarily mean that it is bad? Not at all!
Part of what we see in the early chapters of Acts are the different ways that God was moving the early church towards the fulfillment of their mission. Whether it was internal strife or sin, or external pressure, God was moving His people out with a marvelous new message: Jesus is the resurrected Messiah.
Do you have any "good" problems in your life? Has God been trying to teach you something through seemingly difficult circumstances? Feel free to share...if you want...