In 1948, Ralph Bunche brokered a ceasefire between Egypt and Israel. After six weeks of intensive negotiations, the two sides stopped fighting and signed a peace accord. Few would argue that he was successful because he could empathize with each side’s desire for justice. Because Ralph Bunche’s own people had suffered without resorting to violence, he could challenge these two warring groups to put down their weapons. When these fanatics were stoning Stephen, instead of retaliating, he prayed for them. He said, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” In suffering without retaliation, he left an indelible imprint on Saul — the man many believe instigated the stoning. Soon after Stephen died, Saul began arresting Christ’s followers, testifying against them, causing them to be put to death. Still, Saul could not get over seeing Stephen turn the other cheek and die. God used his martyrdom to show believers how to face death. He suffered unjustly, but God used his suffering to draw many to Christ. We can never justify those who exploit, misuse, and take advantage of others. But we can count on our wise and just God to use our sufferings for His highest purposes. Our Lord assures us that those who suffer because of Him can expect to receive rich rewards when this life is over.
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