Sometimes we forget just how quickly things can change. God has his plans, and we do not always know them. And they can occasionally be brutal.
One of those sudden shifts that changed the world occurred on August 24, 1572. In the early morning hours, the church bells rang as a signal for the Romanists to start slaughtering the Reformed believers, the Huguenots. Thousands died.
Let's rewind for a minute and consider the situation. The Huguenots were in Paris because of the royal wedding between Henry of Navarre, a fellow Huguenot, and Margaret Valois, a daughter of the King. This was to be the union between the Romanist faction, as represented by the royal family, and the Huguenots, as Henry was in line for the throne. Violence had broken out several times before. There was the Massacre at Vassy (1562) which led to a war and ended with more of a cease-fire than actual peace. A second war broke out in 1567, and a third in 1568. The third war ended in 1570 with very favorable terms for the Huguenots. Even though many sections of the country still had great hostility toward them (and occasionally murdered them), hope was probably on the rise. In 1571, the great Synod of La Rochelle met, Coligny's daughter was married, and the Huguenots were given high ranking places at court again. They seemed to have the ear of the King for the first time in a very long time. Now, the Protestant King of Navarre, Henry, who was already Prince of the Blood for when the Valois line died out, was taking a Valois to be his wife. Not everyone was happy about a mixed religious marriage, but it was clearly an attempt to knit together the fragile kingdom so peace could finally reign.
Then the toll of a bell in the early morning hours signaled the beginning of a genocide that lasted for days. Widespread, methodical murder lasted for three days, and Romanists were still hunting down Huguenots seven days later. A drastic, unexpected, and quick turn of Providence.
Yet God always has His purposes, even in death. Whether it is Job or the protestants at the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, we know that God is bringing himself glory. We can see that such persecution helped enrich the surrounding countries a great deal by infusing them with devout Christians, even the new world saw the arrival of Huguenots (there is still a Huguenot church in Charleston, SC). Perhaps the difference between the true religion and the false was made more plain. Who knows all that God accomplished on that fateful day.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28