Strength & Encouragement
Open Your Bible
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, Lamentations 3:19-24, John 14:18-26, 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
BY Abby Flynn
My favorite place to be is definitely basking in the sun on a beach somewhere. My second favorite place? Cozied up in a huge sweater, under a big blanket, in front of a fireplace with a fresh cup of coffee. While I do sometimes get moments like these, the reality is that most days life isn’t full of warm fuzzy moments.
Sometimes I worry that, in these modern times, we’ve reduced Christianity down to feelings of warm fuzzies. When we’re encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, or sharing our faith with an unbeliever, of course, we want to highlight all the good stuff. Yes, God is with you. Yes, He loves you unconditionally. Yes, He has a plan for your life. All of these things are great, true, biblical, and important. But there’s more to the story.
In reading Paul’s message to the Thessalonian church, we realize just how young they are in their faith. They are still learning, yet they’re already facing persecution because of their newfound faith. So, while Paul can’t be with them in person, he wants to encourage them in their faith and how far they’ve come. He tells them, “Indeed you are our glory and joy!” (1Thessalonians 2:20). He wants them to know that even in their separation, there is hope because the Lord is still working.
In his absence, Paul sent Timothy to encourage them. What they were facing was nothing new for the church at large. In those times, persecution and Christianity went hand in hand because their faith stood so far removed from the culture they lived in.
In his letter, Paul tells the Thessalonians to not be shaken by this persecution because they have been appointed for this very thing, that affliction will come (1Thessalonians 3:3–4). Paul also warns that if they aren’t careful, Satan will try to tempt them from their place of affliction and pain (v.5). Still, these temptations do not mean that God’s love for them has somehow lessened; it is actually proof that they are living out His purpose for their lives.
This letter is also a reminder for us that walking with God doesn’t mean we’re exempt from hurt or pain. Choosing faith in Christ doesn’t keep us from struggle or temptation by the evil one. Here’s what it does mean: We know the end of the story!
In our world, there will be conflict. There will be strife. We will struggle. It’s guaranteed (John 16:33). Jesus suffered unimaginably for us; to love and follow Him is to know suffering too. But in the midst of difficulty and struggle, whose voice will you listen to? Will you choose to believe in the promise of what is to come?
Choose to believe that we already have the victory through Christ. Be encouraged that He is with you in whatever battle you currently face and has already won eternal victory for those who trust and believe in Him. He is present in our joy and near in our pain. The Christian walk is not always warm fuzzies. But our joy and our strength don’t need to flee when we stay connected to Jesus.