United Church of God

Treasure Digest: The Heavens Opened

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Treasure Digest

The Heavens Opened

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Stephen was a young man who was committed to serving God, and he seems to have been a potentially great leader in the growing Church. Yet God allowed him to be stoned to death! Standing there and consenting to this cruel act was Saul, who later became Paul the apostle (Acts 8:1). No doubt remembering what Stephen had done gave Paul added impetus to do what seemed to have been the impossible in his lifetime. It prodded and inspired him to serve God in such a remarkable way. Paul wrote more about how to love and serve God than any other New Testament writer. It seems he suffered as much or more than other disciples (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). He went to his death with courage and conviction (2 Timothy 4:6-8). As Stephen was being stoned, he saw "the heavens opened" (Acts 7:56) and witnessed a powerful sight that sustained him through the horrible ordeal. And so too for Paul—though in a different way—"the heavens opened." God gave him what he needed to make it through his trials. What about you and me? Will God give us the courage and strength we really need when we are facing the greatest trial in our existence? Will the "heavens open" for us too? Is there some sort of assurance God gladly gives to those who love Him and keep His commandments? God does not always grant a person a view into the heavens as young Stephen was given, but in other ways that do comfort and strengthen His children, He sends whatever they need to have the courage to stand fast at the point of their greatest trial. The words of Psalm 23:4 are well known to anyone who reads the Scriptures. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God has been called the "Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). He comforts us in all of our troubles. Even in the darkest moment for each of us, His "rod and staff" comfort us—the heavens open in some way—the way that is the very best for you and for me.