Tuesday, October 12, 2021

An Encouraging Perspective on Suffering

By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy of: Joice Kelly

"We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring. It is clear evidence of God’s righteousjudgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." ~2 Thessalonians 1:3-8

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. 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.” 

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.

While we certainly don’t yearn for hardship, 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!- when we do go through hard times.

So, 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.

Test it.

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!

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