The scripture for today is Acts 7: 54-56.
-When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”-
In these passages, Stephen is experiencing persecution because of his faith in Christ. Not only are contemptuous questions being posed to him by his enemies, but lies are also being spread among them which fuel their rage. He is being mistreated not only by a group of a select people but also by an entire system. If I had been in his place experiencing this level of horror, I suspect I would have been tempted to break down completely. Shockingly, Stephen, did the opposite. He turned to Jesus and experienced the beauty and glory of God in his suffering and showed love and forgiveness to his tormentors. How hopeful that we can, indeed, overcome in the midst of suffering, too, because we count on Christ who lives in us...the hope of glory.
I was in a Bible Study a year or so ago on Psalm 23. Jennifer Rothschild, the speaker, used a metaphor that illustrated flourishing within suffering. She talked about a flower native to California, the Manzanita, which often goes up in flames during the regional forest fires. The amazing thing is that it is also one of the first plants to grow back from the same ashes and to blossom beautifully. It is forged in the fire, you could say.
Lord, please help my brothers and sisters who are suffering and in pain to have hope and to rise like the phoenix. Amen
Allison Montgomery firstname.lastname@example.org
I pray for anyone who is suffering today to experience this same hope and rebirth in the middle of their pain and to be set free. Amen.