We are Destined for This
1 Thessalonians 3:1-4 ESV
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.”
Suffering is part of the Christian life. It is not something we may go through from time to time, as though it is something unusual, but it is normal. It doesn’t mean it will be every day, though it could be. But suffering is to be anticipated as a normal part of our lives, as followers of Jesus Christ.
Suffering is painful, sometimes only a little, and sometimes to the extreme, but it hurts, nonetheless. But even though it is painful, it is for our good. And Jesus heals us, and he comforts us, and he encourages and strengthens us in our suffering so that we are able to endure it.
And we are to rejoice in our suffering because we know that it produces in us endurance, character, and hope. When we share in Jesus’ sufferings, we are becoming like him in his death. When we face trials of many kinds, they test our faith, which then produces steadfastness within us.
Part of our suffering will include being persecuted because of our walks of faith in Jesus Christ. Our family members will even betray us. Some of us they will put to death. We will be hated, rejected, mistreated, ostracized, mocked, falsely accused, ignored, forsaken, and forgotten.
In our suffering we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, and we become sympathetic toward others who are suffering. And so, we comfort them with the same comfort we received from the Lord when we were having to endure much suffering for righteousness’ sake.
God uses our suffering as a means of discipline in our lives for our good in order that we may share in his holiness. Though it is painful when we are going through it, yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
For This Reason
1 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV
“For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.”
When Christians go through trials, especially if they involve abuse or unjust treatment, and especially if that is at the hands of those who are supposed to love, protect, and support them, it may lead some to retreat and to back down from their walks of faith for fear of the reprisal from others.
It helps if we have a support system of other believers who are united with us in faith and purpose, who are there to encourage us and to pray for us. But not everyone has that. Especially if you are in a worldly church environment and you are walking closely with the Lord, you may have opposition and not support coming from others within the gatherings of the church.
It is hard standing alone with no one to support you but God. And that is where some are. And so, they need their brothers and sisters in Christ to reach out to them, and to show concern, and to lift them up in prayer, and to encourage them in their walks of faith so that they don’t give up hope.
Christianity has become so secularized that it barely resembles what a Christian should be all about. The body of Christ appears to not function like it is supposed to, either, with everything now so orchestrated by those who are following Marketing 101 techniques for how to build their churches.
Christian fellowship often looks nothing like the Christian fellowship experienced by the early Christians, but it more often than not resembles worldly fellowships of people talking about the same stuff the world talks about with no fellowship in the Spirit taking place at all.
So, this can be a very lonely environment for those Christians who take God and his word seriously, who are walking the walk and not just talking it. And so, encouraging them in their walks of faith is so valuable to helping them to endure. But they can’t rely on that. Our reliance has to be in Christ alone.
For, if we are looking for or hoping for encouragement from other Christians, and we don’t receive it, if we are not strong in our faith, fully relying on our Lord to give us all we need to keep going every day, chances are pretty good that we won’t survive. It is a tough world we live in now.
The Encouragement We Need
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV
“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
If we are going through a difficult time, and other Christians (or professers of faith in Jesus) have deserted us, because we are just too serious about God and our walks of faith, we need to give it over to the Lord. We need to pray, cry it out to him, and then rest secure in his loving arms.
The Lord is fully sovereign over our lives. What he allows in our lives serves a purpose, and that purpose is to mature us in Christ so that our Lord can use us for his glory in the lives of others. So, we should not be fainthearted when the earth gives way beneath our feet. But we need to hang on tight to Jesus and not let go!
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope
Caution: This link may contain ads