When things go wrong in our lives, does it mean God has failed to protect us? How do I know God is protecting me? These are great questions and we are glad you asked. Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
In the Bible you will find the story of Stephan. He was one of God’s faithful servants. Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit, even in the face of his own death. In fact, the wisdom he was given by the Holy Spirit intimidated those who wanted him to stop spreading the message of Jesus. So they falsely accused him of blasphemy and began to stone him to death. Yet Stephan never wavered. He asked God to forgive the very people who were hurting him.
They stoned Stephen as he was calling on God, praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Having said this, he fell asleep (he died).
Stephen’s speech accused his audience, unbelieving Jews, of acting like they have in the past. Historically, they had rejected God’s message through God’s prophets.
“God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets…shall be required from this generation (Luke 11:49-51).”
They, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time, followed the same pattern when they rejected God’s message of salvation from Jesus. Jesus had recently died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. Stephen’s speech “cut them to the quick,” i.e., it convicted them. They judged him and stoned him on the spot. How do I know God is protecting me?
Did that Mean God Failed to Protect Him?
“(Stephen) said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56).”
Stephen reported this vision seconds before they stoned him. So, God witnessed the entire scene. The Bible usually pictures Jesus sitting at God’s right hand, but this time He rose to His feet acknowledging His faithful witness.
Why Didn’t God Protect Him?
Jesus had predicted martyrdom for His followers. He did not promise them safety:
“Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he is offering a service to God….I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them (John 16:2,4).”
God’s faithful witnesses will suffer persecution. God’s promise to them is NOT to always preserve their life in this world. Instead, His promise is that THE SECOND DEATH will not hurt them:
“He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:11).”
That’s the Protection God Promises to His Faithful Witnesses.
But there are times God intervenes to keep His children from the natural course of evil. The well-known story of the prophet Daniel’s companions illustrates one of these times. The king threw them into a fiery furnace because they didn’t bow down and worship the golden image:
(Their answer to King Nebuchadnezzar): “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).”
Notice, these three witnesses were faithful, but they didn’t know whether God would save their lives or if they’d die in the furnace. But they knew God was able to deliver them. And once again the Son of God was watching over them and even joined them in the furnace!
“But I (King Nebuchadnezzar) see four men loose and walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unharmed. And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!”
Jesus Himself died as a faithful witness to God’s message. Why doesn’t God protect His people from the consequences of evil? We don’t know why there’s such evil in this world and why sin is so bad. But God Himself, in the Person of Jesus, didn’t spare Himself from its consequences.
Has God Failed to Protect His Witnesses?
No, He’s promised to always be with us, and He’s shared in our suffering even to the point of death on the cross. God’s ultimate protection is against the second death.How do I know God is protecting me? He’s promised that–no matter what happens in this world–those who believe in Jesus’ Name will spend a blessed eternity with Him:
“God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death.’Neither shall there be any more sorrow nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).”