“…that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:3
Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The Apostle Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica primarily to take the spiritual pulse of the congregation, but here in our text, Paul was particularly concerned that they would put their present suffering in a proper perspective. It is not at all unusual to meet Christians who are convinced that, if they know Christ, everything will be going their way, but according to the Bible the very opposite is true. Christians in Thessalonica experienced suffering and persecution as consequence of their faith and Paul was concerned that these new Christians might become confused and begin to doubt.
One of the most difficult things for Christians to understand is that difficulties in life are to be expected and are a normal part of the Christian life. According to Scripture, God actually sends difficulties on our path in order to help us on our road to God and drive us closer to Him. The believers in Thessalonica were to know that and they were to rejoice in their persecution, for their suffering and affliction united them to all Christians and identified them as belonging to Christ.
Those who share in suffering for Christ’s sake will also share in His glory. Paul says that suffering is the Christian’s lot in life and is to be expected. Anyone who follows the Good Shepherd will be called a sheep, and sheep as we all know, are destined for slaughter.
Suggestions for prayer
As you go to church to worship today, ask God to help you to rejoice, even in your suffering. Ask Him to help you to understand that life’s hardships are given to strengthen your faith. Ask Him to help you to count it all joy.
Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.