We must have faith in God’s faithfulness. We must trust God to bring about justice. And we must trust God to use our painful circumstances to draw us closer to him. This is the reminder Paul offered to the suffering Christians at Thessalonica.
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1–12. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 1:5:
“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering” (NIV).
The Christians at Thessalonica were suffering not because of God’s judgment against them, but because of their belief in Jesus. By aligning with Jesus, the Thessalonian Christians declared that there is a king other than Caesar (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Acts 17:7). In doing so, they made themselves enemies of the Roman Empire and those loyal to the Empire. This is what led to their persecution.
Paul encourages the Thessalonian Christians with the fact that God’s judgment is always right. Furthermore, he tells them that in their suffering they will learn what it means to truly follow Jesus. And thus, when Jesus returns, they will be found as worthy of his kingdom—of his reign.
The faith and love of the Thessalonians is proof that God is working in them—using their suffering to create something beautiful and good (2 Thessalonians 1:4). In a way, it is proof that God is just. God can use even injustices to create good in our lives—even if we can only witness that good in the spiritual.
When we suffer, we often confuse God as the source, believing that he has brought pain upon us. Instead, we should be looking to how God will use the pain for his good, to draw us closer to him. Suffering should make us question our allegiances: To whom are we really loyal—the demands of our society or to Jesus?
God can use pain to draw us closer to him. And God will ultimately bring about justice for all. We must discern where and how God is working in our lives—how he is drawing us closer to him.
In what ways has God used painful circumstances to accomplish good in your life? What difficult situation are you facing today—how do you think God can use that situation for good in your life (or the lives of others)?
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