The believers in Thessalonica were poor, oppressed, and persecuted. They were slandered and hated by their neighbors. And still their faith in God continued to grow. And when Paul learned of the growing faith of these beleaguered believers, he felt compelled to give thanks to God.
Many Christians today would have a hard time identifying with the faith of the Thessalonians. When we experience even a little bit of hardship, our faith comes crashing to earth. "I'm late for my hair appointment, and I can't find my car keys! Lord, why me?" The believers in Thessalonica saw their livelihoods destroyed, their children attacked and beaten, and their homes vandalized because of their witness for Christ. They faced threats of arrest, imprisonment, and death. They were lied about, and their reputations were destroyed. Through it all, their faith grew, and their love for one another intensified.
Instead of saying, "Why me?" they said, "Why not me?"
Instead of saying, "Why me?" they said, "Why not me? Why should I be treated any better than my Christian neighbors who are suffering?" Instead of saying, "Why are You doing this to me, Lord?" they said, "Thank You, Lord, for walking through this time of trial with me."
As you read these words, Christians around the world are undergoing incredible suffering for the sake of Christ. In many Muslim-dominated countries, where terrorism is a daily fact of life, Christians are being tortured and beheaded, and their children are murdered before their eyes. The Lord loves those martyred believers as much as He loves you and me.
The day may come when we will have to undergo persecution. Will our faith grow as the faith of the Thessalonians grew? Will our love for one another intensify like the love of the Thessalonians? The time to start increasing our faith and deepening our Christlike character is now. We need to prepare ourselves now for the testing to come.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the persevering faith of the Thessalonians. May their example embolden and inspire me to pursue deeper faith as I take on the humble attitude of Christ. Prepare me by Your Spirit for the testing to come. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
*Excerpt adapted from Fearless Living in Troubled Times by Michael Youssef © 2017. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.