1 Thessalonians 3:3b-4

In 1 Thessalonians 3:3b-4 Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know that their time of present suffering was in God’s control. As part of the normal Christian life, believers will face suffering and affliction. “For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” It’s not an anomaly for a Christ Follower to have to wrestle with things that don’t go well. God uses suffering and trials for important purposes in our lives as believers. It is part of our destiny as a Christ Follower – to become more and more like Jesus – and part of that process requires us to go through things that we likely would avoid if it was up to us.

Paul reminds them that this shouldn’t come as a surprise. “For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.” Guzik explains “Some believe that the only kind of affliction a Christian should experience is persecution. The truth is that there are two ancient Greek words used to translate the concept of suffering, and neither of them is used exclusively in regard to persecution. Thilipsis was used for such things as physical pain, emotional hardships, and suffering under temptation. Pasko was used for such things as physical sufferings unrelated to persecution, suffering under temptation, and hardships in a general sense.”

Suffering should never be a surprise to a Christian as God’s Word speaks to that reality in many places. And if we merely look at the lives of Biblical characters and even those we consider to be pinnacles of the faith it is obvious that facing tough times is part of the life of a Christ Follower. Guzik writes “Some believe that affliction means God is angry at the believer. The truth is that affliction means that God loves us enough to give the best when we may only desire what is easy. The symbol of Christianity is the cross, not a feather bed. Affliction is just part of following Jesus; therefore Paul recognized that Christians are appointed to affliction.”

Paul had warned them during his brief time with them earlier, and now reinforces it to them again. There is a place for suffering in the life of a Christ Follower. It’s not a mistake or doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. In Jesus’ parable of the soils (Matthew 13:1-23), He described the way that some fall away when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word and living according to God’s Word – Jesus said when tribulation arises, and not if tribulation comes. The Christian’s faith will be tested. Paul knew this, and as pastor and one who cared deeply for this church, he warned the Thessalonians.

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