“And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.”
– 1 Thessalonians 3:2–3
Did you hear that last statement that Paul just made? He’s talking about sending Timothy to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them to establish and exhort them in their faith. And then he starts talking about afflictions and he says, “For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” So what’s the “this” he’s referring to there?
He’s referring to afflictions. We are destined for afflictions. That’s what Paul’s saying here. And it’s all over the Bible. I was actually preaching on this not long ago, but followers of Jesus should not be surprised when storms come our way. All throughout the Old Testament, there was not one person who followed God who didn’t experience storms as a result of following and fearing and worshiping and glorifying God.
Reminded to Expect Suffering
And then you get to the New Testament, this is the story of the disciples. This is certainly Paul’s story as he is writing different letters from prison, as he’s saying, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.” He knew he was following a savior who suffered in this world of sin and evil. And so he says in I Thessalonians 3 in a way that, I’ve read this before, but it just struck me in a fresh way.
You yourselves know that we are destined for this. So don’t be surprised Christian, when you face affliction, when you face challenges in your life and yes, there are times we experience suffering as a result of sin and disobedience to God without question. Sin has consequences, but there are other times when we experience suffering affliction, not because of our disobedience to God, but actually because of our obedience to God. We are destined for affliction in this fallen world.
1 Thessalonians 3:2–3 Reminds Us of Our Heavenly Hope
The good news is, our destiny doesn’t stop with this fallen world, which again is why every chapter in I Thessalonians ends with anticipation of Jesus coming back and inaugurating a new heaven and a new earth. And so we pray, God, I know there are people listening to this right now who are walking through affliction. And I want to pray specifically for those who are walking through affliction because of obedience to you.
Their affliction is not due to any direct sin in their lives. Obviously, oh God, we are all sinners, but we know we sometimes experience suffering and affliction as we’re walking in obedience to you. So God, I pray for people who are walking through hard days, through storms, through afflictions right now. And I pray that just as they and we are destined for this. They would know we are also destined not to walk through affliction alone, that you have promised to be with us, for us.
1 Thessalonians 3:2–3 Reminds Us Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love
If you are for us, who can stand against us? Nothing can separate us from your love and your grace and your mercy. From your strength and your joy. That we have a joy that supersedes even affliction and suffering, God. So I pray for all those things over anyone walking through affliction right now. I pray for hope, God amidst discouragement and despair, I pray for encouragement.
I pray for building up a faith during these days. For hope that these days will not have the last word. That affliction will not have the last word for those who have faith in Jesus. That sin and evil and suffering and death itself will not have the last word. For those who have faith in Jesus, that you will bring us through affliction. And that our afflictions, our sufferings cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.
We hold fast to that hope. We pray like we see all over 1 Thessalonians. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly and help us we pray in this world where we are destined for affliction. To endure, patiently endure, to faithfully endure with our eyes fixed on you. God, I pray this over every single person walking through affliction right now, in Jesus’ name. Amen.