God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw a stark reminder about how fragile life is and how tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone and how every one of us will go the way of all the earth. If you’re interested you can read more here: Memento Mori: Remember you too must die — Acts 12:1-3.
Today we’ll explore what James might have thought about his fate in light of what happens to Peter. And we’ll see what that has to do with the way we look at the trials that come our way in life.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”Acts 12:1-11
So James was executed by Herod. And Peter was rescued by God from Herod’s hand, in miraculous fashion. After reading this passage I wondered if, after these events, James was standing before God in heaven saying, “Hey, wait a minute. What about Peter?”
After all, sometime earlier that was Peter’s reaction when Peter learned from Jesus about how he would die. After hearing that bit of news, Peter pointed to John and said to Jesus, “What about him?”
But the thing is, death by the sword was one of the most merciful means of execution at the time. They would behead you with a very sharp sword and death came quickly if you were executed in that manner. And although Peter was rescued this time, according to church tradition, it wouldn’t be long before he would be crucified upside down.
The point I’m trying to make is we have to trust God for what happens to us in life. And we can’t second guess Him based on what happens to someone else.
He is wise enough and capable enough to create the universe and all that’s in it. Someone with that kind of knowledge, wisdom, and capability is the right Person to make the call as to what kind of experiences will come my way, and your way, and the way of the people around us.
Second guessing God in these matters strikes me as being similar to a passenger on an airliner who watched some pilot training YouTube videos. And then when some turbulence is encountered, the guy gets up out of his seat and tries to tell the pilot what to do. That would be an obvious irrational reaction. Second guessing what God allows to come our way in life is very much more irrational than that.
I’m guessing when James arrived in heaven and he saw the reality of God the Father, and Jesus His Christ, and the Holy Spirit, James said,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!” (Revelation 16:7)
Faith in who He is, and what He decides to do with me and with you and with the people around us, is what we want, so you and I can say the same about whatever God allows to come our way in life.
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”