The Christians at Thessalonica were experiencing tremendous hardship when Paul sent a second letter to them. They were undergoing trials that threatened to break their faith. But despite these pressures, their commitment to Christ remained strong. That's why Paul could say, "We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
These Christians were going through the most unbelievable, most intense persecution, and yet their incredible faith caused the apostle Paul to use a word that he never used anywhere else in all of his letters. It's a Greek word that means "bound, compelled, obligated." That's how strongly the apostle felt about giving thanks to God for the Thessalonians. Paul was saying, in effect, "Your faith has been so incredible in the midst of crushing circumstances that I feel I owe God my gratitude."
Jesus empowers us to face every trial with faith in His promises.
We must be prepared for trials and suffering. After all, Jesus promised us it would be this way: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. . . . I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:18-20).
Now, it's not the sort of promise that people want to talk about. It's not the kind of statement that gets turned into a decorative print or written on a coffee cup. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). But when it comes, do not despair. Jesus assured His disciples in the very next breath, "But take heart! I have overcome the world."
That was the secret to the Thessalonians' faith, and it's the secret to deepening your faith. Jesus empowers us to face every trial with faith in His promises, the same ones the Thessalonians had: He is returning soon; He is preparing a place for us—a city with eternal foundations; His victory is sure; no one can snatch you from His hands.
Rooted in these, you can look forward to the end of history and, like the Thessalonians, "[c]onsider it pure joy, . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2-3).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the example of the Thessalonians' faith. May I have the kind of faith that considers it pure joy when I face trials. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (James 1:2-3).