Never one to shy away from an uncomfortable topic, Paul begins his second letter to the Thessalonians by writing about the persecutions and tribulations we will endure in this life. His choice is not terribly shocking; in fact, trials and tribulations are common topics throughout the New Testament. As we’ve seen in #ReadHisWordsBeforeOurs, believers are repeatedly instructed to delight in these hardships, for they produce godliness in us and are a part of our sanctification process.
What is a bit shocking, perhaps, are Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 1 regarding these sufferings. He asserts our hardships are “clear evidence of God’s righteous judgement that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you are also suffering.” (verse 5)
Did you catch that? Our trials, tribulations, persecutions, and sufferings in this life are direct evidence of the righteous judgment of God.
They are evidence He is considering us worthy of the kingdom of God!
That’s a big deal!
Similarly, in 1 Peter 4:13, Peter urges,
“Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, that you may also rejoice with great joy when His glory is revealed.”
Amazingly, there is a direct connection between the suffering we experience in this world and the abundant level of glory and rejoicing we will experience in the next.
Recently, I wrote a social media post reflecting this idea of life’s hardship leading to a deeper walk with Christ, and how this serves as a precursor to our coming glory.
The concept of the hardships in this life leading to a deepening of our walk with the Lord and serving as a precursor to coming glory inspired a post I recently wrote on social media.
“We have to stop being so myopic and quit looking just at the US. We need to zoom out and look at the world as a whole, both now and down through history.
When we do that, what we see is that the church has repeatedly been strengthened in the hard times. In fact, the church has always proven to be stronger, more faithful, and more able to lean on Christ when times are hard and persecution is rampant than when everything is easy, earthly freedom abounds, and we all become complacent.
It’s not that I’m over here begging God for hardship so that the church would wake up and stand firm and learn what it means to be strong in the faith. But, as I’ve said before, God is always on the move, not the least of which being in those times when the church is persecuted or facing hardship.
While we don’t yearn for hardship and freedom infringement, we can be a little excited about seeing God strengthen, build, and grow His church in amazing ways – and prove Himself the faithful sustainer of that church!- if the church does begin to lose some of its freedoms.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, please do not lose heart!
Please do not fret or wring your hands or get worried and worked up.
No. Rely on your faith.
Live it out.
Prove that it can withstand hardship. And excitedly watch God work!”
We will undoubtedly face hardships in this life. They are promised to us.
Yet, those hardships are never an indictment against God, grounds for disproving the Bible, or trials that render God weak or useless.
Far from it, friends!
While we don’t yearn for hardships, trials, and sufferings, we are able to rejoice when they come because we know they will produce abundant fruit in our lives,
both now and in eternity.
No pain we suffer in this life is purposeless. Rather, it serves a great purpose and provides us with an opportunity to watch Romans 8:28 come true right in front of our eyes.
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God,
who are called according to His purpose.”
Take heart, my friends! The sufferings of this present life are leading to an abundance of glory unlike anything we can presently imagine.
Hold on. Hold fast. Look up. And keep the faith!
Ready Day 12
But I do rejoice in the fruit of that suffering and can look past the pain to see the reason I’m enduring. I know the more I exercise, the stronger I will be and the more fit to live the life I desire. Suffering is like exercise that pains us, but in the long run, makes us stronger and more prepared to enjoy the rich presence of God in heaven.
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