“Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:54-55
We are connected with two realities simultaneously. There is the lower reality of this world of human judgment, and there is the higher reality of the throne of God and divine judgment.
The lower reality can be brutal. It was brutal not only for Stephen but far more for those who stoned him. Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures, page 182: “Stoning somebody to death, even somebody as young and healthy as Stephen, isn’t easy. You don’t get the job done with the first few rocks and broken bottles, and even after you’ve got the man down, it’s a long, hot business.” Living at this level takes commitment, determination. Those stones are heavy – heavy to throw. One really has to keep up an effort.
But whatever is happening at the lower level, the higher reality is still in authority. And the Holy Spirit is able to make the glory of God and the approval of Jesus more real than the stones.
“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”