"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." Acts 7:55, NIV
As we conclude our series on people in the Bible who displayed remarkable patience, we turn our attention to Stephen – a man whose patient faith and unyielding courage shine brightly amidst challenges and adversity. In Acts 6:8-7:60, we witness Stephen's unwavering commitment to the gospel, even in the face of persecution and the ultimate sacrifice.
Stephen's story begins when he was chosen to serve the early Church, helping to distribute food to widows in need. However, his ministry quickly expanded beyond practical assistance as he proclaimed the gospel with a boldness fuelled by the Holy Spirit. Despite opposition from some religious leaders, Stephen remained steadfast, grounded in his faith, and unafraid to speak the truth.
As he stood before the high priest and the council, Stephen's patient faith came to the forefront. Instead of defending himself, he delivered a powerful defence of the gospel – a defence that spanned the history of God's faithfulness to his people. He recounted their ancestors' journey, highlighting their failures and God's grace. Stephen's speech was a testament to his deep understanding of Scripture and his unshakable trust in God's plan.
Amidst the growing hostility, Stephen's patience and unwavering faith did not waver. In the face of false accusations and anger, he remained composed and focused on his message. He looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). Stephen's patient endurance, even as stones were cast upon him, mirrored the patience of Christ himself.
Stephen's story asks us to consider the depth of our own faith and the patience we exhibit in the midst of adversity. His final words, echoing Jesus' own words on the cross, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60), reveal a heart of compassion and forgiveness.
May his story remind us that patience is not just about enduring, but about standing firm in our faith and trust in God's plan, regardless of the circumstances.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are grateful for the examples of the patient faith of men and women who have gone before us. Help us to draw strength from their stories, to trust in your plan amidst challenges, and to boldly share your truth. May our lives reflect the same patient endurance and unshakable faith that Stephen displayed. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.