Acts 3:17, 18“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.”
Peter is here giving a speech in the Temple courtyard to his fellow countrymen after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He is reflecting a passage from the gospel of Luke, who wrote the book of Acts as well, where Jesus says from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). Is it possible that our actions have far greater consequences than we are aware of? Google “the butterfly effect” and you will find numerous quotes about the ways small movements can have major outcomes. Some of these outcomes can be negative, like hurricanes. Some of the things we experience result in suffering. We lose loved ones. Relationships break apart. We experience illness, disease, and pain. Is it possible that suffering can be used to create good ends? That is the premise of Christianity, that despite all our misguided actions done intentionally or in ignorance, and despite the suffering that results, God is able and, in fact, has used these to bring redemption and good. We all suffer. Can God use such suffering for positive purposes?