Tuesday, May 14

Disturbed or destined

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 22-24, 1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3:3 (We sent Timothy to encourage you) so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.

Observation

Paul was concerned for the young believers (new converts) in Thessalonica.  They were facing opposition and persecution, and Paul was apprehensive that their young faith might wilt under the heat of hardship.   Jesus warned that this could happen.  (See Mark 4:1-20, the parable of the soils.  The rocky soil represented those who receive the word with joy, but “when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”)  So Paul’s fears were legitimate, and because he was unable to come, he sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them, and report back to him.

He did this “so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions, for you know that we have been destined for this.”  He reminds them that he had warned them in advance that hardship was coming.  He prepared them for affliction, opposition, persecution because “we have been destined for this.”  Jesus also warned that this would happen.  (See John 15)

Application

I see Christians falling away when affliction strikes—and it doesn’t even have to be “because of the word” (that is, opposition to their faith), but simply the hardships of life.  I fear that we’ve not prepared people adequately, as Paul did, warning them in advance that affliction will come.  

Life is hard.  Following Jesus is not a guarantee for an easy life—in fact, it guarantees some additional hardship.  Christians don’t get a pass on life’s difficulties.  Christians get sick, have accidents, experience hurt and betrayal and failure just like everyone else.  But we don’t face it alone.  And we know that this life is not all there is.  You will experience life’s hardships; don’t let them erode your faith.  

Following Jesus is hard.  Jesus warned that we would face opposition for our faith in Him.  

      • We face opposition from our spiritual adversary, the devil, who will do everything he can to distract and defeat us.  (See 1 Peter 5:8). 
      • We face opposition from the world, human culture in rebellion against God.  (See 1 John 2:15-17)  This opposition can range from open persecution to marginalization.  
      • And we face opposition from within, from our own fallen human nature that fights against the Spirit’s leading in our lives.  (See Galatians 5:16-26).

Jesus made it clear that following Him wouldn’t be easy.  (See Matthew 7:13-14 on the wide and easy way to death versus the narrow and hard way to life.)

Do I make it sound terrible?  I hope not, because following Jesus is the way to life—Life with a capital L—life eternal and abundant and full.  Like most great things, it’s not easy.  But it’s worth it.  I share this not to discourage you, but to forewarn you (to be forewarned is to be forearmed).  I want you to stand strong when the hardships come—and they will.  We have be destined for them.  Without being prepared, these things may disturb or disrupt; but we are ready, we are destined.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the warning that prepares us to stand strong.  I pray that my brothers and sisters will not be moved by hardship or opposition, but will stand strong in their faith.