I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God! Acts 7:56
As the crowd picked up stones and began to throw them at Stephen, we are told that Stephen looked toward the heavens and saw Jesus. Jesus was there in the midst of persecution. Stephen fell to the ground and died while uttering words of pardon similar to those that Jesus extended to His executioners at Golgotha: “Lord, do not hold this against them.”
Even if we were to doubt the reality of Stephen’s vision, I suspect we know that if Jesus is anywhere in the world, He is present in places of suffering. Jesus, the Suffering Servant, who did not avoid the cross, makes His home in broken places and broken lives. Therefore, we can have confidence that Jesus will not avoid attending to us in our moments of trial and tribulation. When Jesus is with us in moments of persecution, as He was with Stephen, we can even die with grace and love.
The next time you feel persecuted, remember Jesus is there with you.
Lord, we would prefer to avoid suffering, but we are grateful that You are with us in whatever trials and troubles we face. If You are with us in the most difficult moments of life—if You are there as we pass from life to death—what do we have to fear? We might even find, in the end, that we can forgive those who assail us when we possess such faith. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.