The Thessalonian church was growing in faith and increasing in love for one another (2 Thess. 1:3). If I asked you, you probably would say faith and love are two areas in which you want to grow.
But growing has a price not many of us are willing to pay.
The Thessalonians were enduring persecutions and afflictions. “Enduring” is the key word. When trials, afflictions, and struggles come our way, we need to decide what we are going to do with them. Are we going to endure and grow? Or are we going to complain and stray away from God?
Because – I bet you know already – the question is not if affliction comes but when.
Saying that we are living in hard times right now in Venezuela would be an understatement.
People are hungry. There are no medicines. Women are dying in childbirth. There is no food to buy at the supermarket and what you can find is so expensive you can barely afford it. You have to wait in long lines to buy gas for your car the 2 days a week you are allowed to buy it. Caracas is the most dangerous city in the world and even here, in the middle of nowhere where I live, you have to be at home before 7pm if you want to be safe.
And then, I read our verses for today…
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, which you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.
The righteous judgment of God.
When I look around and I see people suffering and friends going to bed on an empty stomach. When I see the corruption, the every day injustice. When I hear my oldest child ask “Why don´t we leave?” after a hard day, it doesn´t seem righteous to me.
But Paul says this is the righteous judgment of God…so the problem is probably me. How I see things my human way instead of looking at them God´s way.
Where suffering is coupled with righteous endurance, God’s work is done. The fires of persecution and tribulation are like the purifying fires of a refiner, burning away the dross from the gold, bringing forth a pure, precious metal.
But the burning, the purifying, the stretching – it hurts.
And we don´t like hurting. We don´t like suffering. We like it easy and comfortable. We question God. We question His ways and His timing. We complain, we argue and come out with all kind of solutions.
And we forget that it is in hardship that the Gospel comes alive. Is in the middle of the suffering that God´s promises become raw and real.
Jesus will repay with affliction those who afflict you.
Jesus will grant relief to you who are afflicted.
Jesus will be revealed from heaven.
He promised and He will. I may not see it in this life. But He will, eternally. In heaven. For ever and ever.
Don´t you get confused, friend. Earth is not heaven. And God will use times of affliction in your life to give you the opportunity to cling to Him and His Word. To see Him right beside you, holding your hand and telling you “Don´t be afraid, I´m with you.”
Because whatever is going on in your life right now, as hard as it is, as long as you have to endure it, it is part of the righteous judgment of God and it´s making you worthy of His Kingdom.
He is not surprised by what you are living and He will give you rest. He will use every tear for His glory and will put everything in the right order because He loves you. Oh, friend, how He loves you! I pray you can feel His abundant love in the middle of your pain.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18