Nobody likes suffering. And it’s easy to question why God allows it. But here we find some answers in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Thessalonian church was started in the midst of persecution. Paul was literally forced out of the city and it was very difficult for him to get back in, thus causing him to send Timothy to go for him and sending two letters to the church to encourage them. This is the second of those letters.
What was the result of the suffering that the Thessalonians went through? We see the answer in Paul’s first words to the them. He said,
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (3)
Despite all their sufferings, their faith grew and so did their love, just as Paul had prayed (I Thessalonians 3:11-12)
And because of this, Paul said,
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (4-5)
I kind of pondered that phrase, “All this is evidence is that God’s judgment is right.” What does that mean?
I think it means that God always does what is right, that he never makes mistakes. And so when he allows trials and suffering in our lives, he does so knowing that they will not destroy us, but instead will purify us so that we come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)
This was proven true in the Thessalonians who were not destroyed by their trials, but came out with both stronger faith and love in their lives. And because of this, Paul says, “Despite your suffering, know that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom.”
He then encourages them that though there may seem to be no justice in this world, God would judge their persecutors, and would give the Thessalonians rest. It kind of reminds me of God’s words of comfort to the martyred saints in Revelation 6:9-11.
And Paul says that all this would happen,
on the day [Jesus] comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (10)
I love this verse. When Jesus comes back, God will be glorified in us whom he saved and who lived for him despite many trials, not giving up. At the same time, we will marvel at him who through his grace saved us though we were totally unworthy. More, we will realize that the only reason we made it through our trials was because he was there with us all along, strengthening us.
And so Paul prays,
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (11-12)
Why do we go through suffering? Ultimately it’s so that God may be glorified in us and us in him. And no matter what you go through, if you choose to continue to follow him, he will fulfill every good purpose you have and bless every act prompted by your faith.
And on the day he comes back, he will look at you and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21)
Amen. Come soon Lord Jesus.