Using Afflictions to Fuel Your Faith
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, 3:1-13
Friends, one of the things that this Covid pandemic has given us is the eagerness to meet each other face to face. Likewise, Paul was very eager to meet the Thessalonian church face to face again after being separated from them. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy were heavily persecuted, that they needed to leave them. He saw this as Satan’s work. Satan continuously tried to tear the church apart, and this caused sadness to Paul. But, by God’s grace and mercy, Paul used his afflictions to fuel his faith in the Lord and accomplish the task God gave him. What can we learn from his experience? How can we safely navigate through our difficulties without weakening our faith?
1. Use your affliction to deepen your concern for others.
“Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, 3 so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so, it came to pass, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The Thessalonians needed encouragement as they go through persecution.
He kept on reminding them that persecutions were bound to happen as they stand firm in their faith.
Paul’s heart was filled with affection and deep concern for the church in Thessalonica.
Paul’s own afflictions have taught him to express real affection towards those who were suffering because of their faith.
Encouraging others have a soothing effect in our own soul as it also helps us process our emotional pain.
2. Use your affliction to boost your confidence in God.
“7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? 1 Thessalonians 2:7-10
Affliction comes from the Greek word thlipsis, which means “pressure”.
The root word has been used to describe the pressing of grape to extract juice for wine making.
Likewise, pressure must be allowed to bring out the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us.
Some of the benefits of afflictions are:
It helps us to become spiritually mature.
It reveals the power of God.
It can produce supernatural comfort.
3. Use your afflictions to hold on to Jesus.
“11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12.
The most important part of the spiritual journey is that we may know Him personally, His immense power and His endless love that we may delight in Him. Cf. Psalm 37:4.
1 Peter 5:7, “7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”