Embracing Suffering Through Faith, Hope and Love

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 NLT

The apostle Paul described the church in Thessalonica as belonging to God, the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in the NLT, GNB and NRIV versions. The evidence of their identity as the chldren of God was their faith, hope and love revealed in the crucible of suffering. This was  seen through their lives of good deeds and perseverance:

“As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT

The disciples in Thessalonica had not only received the gospel with great joy but their faith had spread throughout Greece and beyond even though the sharing of how they had turned from idols to serve the living God caused them much suffering. They were living out their faith in the Risen Christ and looking forwards to the second coming of Christ.

There is a vast difference between being a Christian who is thinking only about going to heaven and being a follower of Christ who is seeking to bring heaven to earth in preparation for Christ’s second coming as our Servant King. Our attitudes are our patterns of thinking and how we think determines our feelings, actions and beliefs.

If our attitude towards life is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, the gospel of Christ will be nonsense to us. But if we have truly turned away from the idols of wealth, health and longevity and seeking to serve God, our weaknesses and powerlessness are transformed by God’s power and strength so that we will soar high on wings like eagles:

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

The early disciples in Thessalonica did not have the New Testament – the Holy Spirit was writing the New Testament through their lives as they lived out the truths in the Old Testament. We serve a mighty God not to make a great story out of our lives but because we believe our lives are a part of the greatest story of God’s amazing love.

We live in a world that is filled with evil, sorrow and pain. Jesus Christ embraced suffering and death on the cross and rose from the dead to show us how dearly God loves us:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NLT

When we truly follow Christ, we will be able to embrace suffering with faith, hope and love so that our lives will shine like stars in a world of corrupt and sinful people. To follow Christ is not about seeking to go to heaven when we die or trying to second guess when Christ wll come again – it is to be the answer to the prayer that God’s Kingdom will come so that His perfect Will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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