The Acts of Disciples
They Suffer Willingly – Part II
Scripture Reading: Acts 7:1-60
Key Verses: Acts 7:59-60
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
As we continue the study of suffering for the Kingdom, we face many questions around the “why” of suffering, especially for “good Christian people”. We have all heard people ask, “why would God allow good people to suffer?”
Stephen, in our Scripture Reading for today, was a good man. Acts 6:8 described him:
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Our Key Verse tells us that God allowed Stephen’s adversaries to stone him to death. Why did God not deliver Stephen like He did so many times for His other followers? We have no answers for this question except that God’s purposes and decisions are always right. Critics accuse God of being mean and uncaring about our sufferings, but these critics someday will realize how wrong they have been.
Questions about God’s decisions will always pop up in our minds over situations that we, as humans, just cannot understand. Christ-followers can whisper a prayer and tell God that we trust Him even when we do not understand. God is so big, and His ways are so far beyond us, we dare not demand to understand Him. The Prophet Isaiah said it this way:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
A simple example might help us grasp in a small way the reason why our Father in Heaven allows good people to suffer.
A good parent disciplines their children, which sometimes makes them cry. As our children get older, they may accuse us of being mean or not caring about their desires. But we know to let them suffer our discipline because it is good for them.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. He allows suffering because He knows the good it brings, even though many of His children protest His decisions. Let’s be careful to never accuse God falsely and always trust His decisions.
Father, I do not like to suffer, but with Your help, I trust You despite any suffering that might come my way. Your grace is always sufficient for my needs. In Jesus’s Name I pray, amen.