Strength Through Affliction

1 Thessalonians 3:1-4

1 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, 3 so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.

The Christian life is not always an easy life. I hear occasionally that to be a Christian is taking the “easy road” or better yet, “weak”. That one cracks me up. The enemy would like no more than to convince nonbelievers of this so that they hold onto their pride and turn away. Caught up in the worldliness and what it tells us is a man, a tough and upright person, we fail to see the truth and reality of it all.

Any Christian will tell you they have been subject to afflictions, usually persecution of their faith, whether directly or indirectly. Directly, people mock and try to shame you for your beliefs. Indirectly our humanistic thought patterns try to convince us we “made a bad decision” or that we are “unworthy” or aren’t “doing it right.” This is why I give credit to people who don’t believe the same things I do but stand firm in their beliefs. Regardless of political affiliation, religious organization affiliation, family background or upbringing, I tell you this: one who stands firm in their beliefs has endured more persecution than those who do not. Period.

That being said, I must say that the Christian brotherhood (I know, that sounds like a biker gang name) is one that I am so proud to belong to. WE lift each other up and support one another during times of affliction. For every situation and/or person that comes against us, God offers even more support to help us keep standing. This was Paul’s reason for sending Timothy. He knew God’s kingdom was under attack because of the persecution they were facing, so he sent Timothy to check on and encourage the church at Thessalonica.

This wasn’t Paul’s first rodeo. Remember he was the most notorious persecutor of the new found Christian church! He knew what men were capable of. All of us that are believers also know what men are capable of because…get this…we’ve all done it!!! It is through God’s grace we have been saved from that heart condition and now we can use that knowledge against the enemy with whom we were once aligned. This is why Paul warned them ahead of time we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction. I recently had the honor of praying with someone as they accepted Christ into their lives. The first thing I said was, “you’ve just ticked off the enemy and he will be coming for you, guard yourself in God’s strength and look to Him for guidance and protection.” Why? for you yourselves know we have been destined for this. We declared war on evil and we are on the side that is going to win, although our enemy refuses to believe it and will try anything to get you back on his side.

So what shall we do then? We are to look to those to strengthen us when we are weak. We are to support and encourage others when we are strong as Timothy did for Thessalonica. We are in this together and more importantly, Romans 8:31 encourages us, 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

How can we cry out to God for help through our afflictions? Who can we support in their afflictions?

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