In the book of Acts when Stephen was stoned to death, he did not die a premature death. People could have said that he was anointed and an effective preacher, why did he die so soon? It is easy to think that since he was not that old, he must have died a premature death. In Acts 6:10 the Bible says, “But the Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom that when he spoke, they could not refute him” (GNB). That same day when Stephen preached the word of God religious people decided to stone him to death despite that he had an anointed ministry.
According to Acts 7:57-58 we are told, “With a loud cry the members of the Council covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, threw him out of the city, and stoned him…” (GNB). What was important is the assignment. In his plan, God later used a man called Saul who earlier on was a witness to Stephen’s death. Saul was later called Paul and he is a man who wrote much of the New Testament.
Now, Stephen’s death was not in vain and that is why his death was not premature. The plan is God’s plan and his purpose is what was being accomplished. We may not always understand why people like Stephen or other anointed men of God seem to die so soon. We ask the single word question, why? We wonder why God allows things like what happened to Stephen who was stoned to death for no apparent reason. Why did God not prevent the death of such a man? A man with the potential for an effective ministry. It is normal to ask questions like these because God has answers.
Firstly, we have to remember there is a better place where Jesus is right now than here on earth. Secondly, God is accomplishing his plan of the ages no matter how things may look like. Thirdly, we have to remember that our hope is in Christ and this hope in Christ gives us strength to overcome every challenge we face here on earth.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 the Bible says, “Our brothers and sisters, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope” (GNB). We have hope In Christ. In verse 14 of the same chapter, the Bible also says, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will take back with Jesus those who have died believing in him” (GNB). In these word we can see that God has the best for us in his plan. He has given us hope in the face of death.
God’s plan is what matters. Paul at the end of his life said that he had fought a good fight of faith. He knew that what he had accomplished is what God assigned for him to accomplish. There may be people today in their senior years still going on with this fight of faith, doing the work of the ministry. They are fresh and strong as ever because they have to accomplish what God has assigned for them. They do not have to die just because they are advanced in years. They really have to accomplish their assignment until they are done and only God knows when they are done. It is God’s plan.
God has the best for his people. If you belong to God it means he has the best for you. In John 14:2-3 Jesus says, “There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am” (GNB). The best place is where Jesus is and as believers that is the place we hope to spend our eternity.
All we need is faith in Christ to have this hope. When we face sorrows in life we have to remember that our hope in Christ is like no other.
GNB – Good News Bible