“Paul, Silas and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

Paul writes again to believers at Thessalonica, who unfortunately still can’t shake the heavy persecution that began before the first letter. In fact, the pressure and opposition had increased. On top of the physical hardships they had endured, this young church was now faced with an influx of false doctrine and discouragement, along with the temptation to live irresponsibly and in disregard to their newfound faith. I love how Paul sticks with them for the long haul as a committed shepherd, a discerning advisor, and a faithful encourager. If you have someone in your life like this, stop and thank God for them right now. We need more Christ-followers who aren’t afraid to approach the mess of the hurting to speak timely truth and extravagant love. Let’s be those kind of women.

And, wow, how about those Thessalonians.

Trials have a way of exposing what we’re made of. Many crumble under the weight of such a heavy load, while others are able to dig deep and rise – finding fortitude that they didn’t even realize they had. Have you ever met someone who lived such an upside-down life in response to their circumstances that you couldn’t help but be stunned by their behavior? To the rest of the world these people come across as a rare personality at best; a questionable fake at worst. But to those of us who have Christ as our unshakable foundation, we know that our approach to trials can look like that of the Thessalonians, who despite the unrelenting battle from the outside, found great peace and strength from within.

Under pressure, their faith grew. In great trials, their love increased.

There are precious people in my life who are living this out as we speak…

  • The diagnosis came, and it wasn’t what she had hoped for. But she isn’t shaken. She isn’t bitter. She isn’t hopeless. Instead, she looks at this infirmity as an opportunity to shine the love of Jesus. Her days are saturated in the Word, and she speaks often of her faith to doctors, nurses, friends, and anyone who will listen. She tells of the strength and great purpose that God has brought to her life through this trial. Instead of constant sadness, strangers are shocked to walk by and find smiles, singing, and praying coming from her treatment room. People visit hoping to bring encouragement but instead leave more encouraged than they came. Life is hard and the future is unknown, but she is determined to love well and often, making every moment count.
  • The joy that he has in sorrow really makes no sense to the rest of the world. After all, he’s just experienced tremendous loss that many have labeled as “too soon” and “unfair.” Some have continued to question why things like this happen, but not him. His heart is at peace, and his faith is sure. He knows that for those who love God, all things work together for good. Oh yes, he grieves deeply…but not without hope. In fact, in confronting death, Jesus has become even sweeter to him. With hands lifted high, he is moved to worship the One who has defeated death and offers eternal life for all who will place their faith in Him.

How do you respond under the crucible of suffering?

Will we crumble under pressure, questioning God’s goodness and withholding goodness to others? Or will we stand on our Firm Foundation and rise, allowing our faithful Father to work in us through our suffering as the Spirit of the living God supernaturally empowers us from the inside out?

Under pressure, their faith grew. In great trials, their love increased.

Oh, Father, no matter what trials come our way – by Your power and for Your glory – may this be what the world sees in us.

At His Feet,

 

 

Week 4 Challenge: Who in your life has been an example of growing faith and increasing love in the midst of suffering? Writing them a note this week to thank them for their godly influence in your life.

Week 4 Reading Plan

Week 4 Memory Verse