II Thessalonians 3:1-5 — When we’re in the midst of trial

I’ve mentioned many times that God has never promised us an easy life.

Paul certainly didn’t have an easy life. He was beaten and persecuted for the sake of the gospel. He was shipwrecked and stretched beyond his ability to endure. And ultimately, he was martyred for his faith.

And yet through all his trials, he kept on. How was he able to do so?

He asked the Thessalonians,

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. (1-2)

I think there were several things that gave Paul the ability to keep going.

First, he saw the fruit of what he was suffering. That through the Thessalonians, the Philippians, and others, he could see God working and was reassured that all his work and suffering was not in vain.

Second, he had people praying for him. And he always made sure to ask people to pray for him. He never said, “I’m okay. I can get through all these trials on my own.” Rather, he said time and again, “Pray for me. There is a lot of evil out there. And there are a lot of evil people around me. So pray. I need it.”

Third, he realized the Lord is faithful and good, even when he was among hostile people. He said

Not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2-3)

And so he encouraged the Thessalonians to keep on as he was keeping on, saying,

We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. (4)

He then concludes with the key to being able to stand in the midst of trial. He prayed,

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (5)

So often, we let trials lead us into bitterness, anger, and feelings of abandonment by God and others. And because we feel this way, we turn inward and throw pity parties. How could anyone, after all, understand what we are going through?

But Paul prays, “Don’t let your trials lead you away from God. Instead, let them lead you to him. Don’t run away from God because of your trials. Run to him.”

More, he says, “Remember Christ. Remember what he endured for you. That he was betrayed and abandoned by those he loved. That he was mocked, beaten, and then crucified. And yet he endured. Why? Because he loves you.

“So when you are feeling like you can’t endure any more, look to him. He understands exactly what you’re going through. And he cares. You have not been abandoned.”

The writer of Hebrews put it this way,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3) 

And again,

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

So if you are feeling beaten down by life and abandoned, my prayer for you is the same as Paul’s.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (5)

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About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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