23 August 2015
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3; Proverbs 9
1 Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided to stay alone in Athens, 2 and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, 3 and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. 4 Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. (1 Thessalonians 3:1–4 NLT)
Paul makes a statement here that I find really challenging! Paul says that he knew, and the Thessalonian believers knew, that they were going to face faith-shaking troubles and needed some help to keep from being overcome by the troubles they experienced. He had warned them to expect troubles and it had happened! This doesn’t fit well with the popular theology of prosperity and ever-increasing blessing!
There are a couple of things we need to keep in mind, friends. It is a blessing to live a life of faith. God does truly love us as a father loves his children. God does really provide for us our daily bread, our needs and many of our desires, our health and healing, and our hope for eternity.
But troubles do come to people who are living faithfully, who are living by faith, and who are doing their very best where they are with what they have. Troubles may take the form of unmet needs, of sickness and poor health, of broken relationships and shattered dreams, and even of actual persecution for righteousness as the Thessalonians were experiencing.
When we are blessed, prospering, and “living the dream”, we will do well to be thankful to God and to steward well the blessings we enjoy. But when trouble comes, we will do well to trust deeply in God’s wisdom and grace, to seek encouragement from others who have walked a rugged section of the pathway, and to not be shaken from our simple faith in a loving God.
Father, Thank you for the blessings I enjoy every day. I acknowledge that you are the source of my blessing and the provider of every good thing. Please help me and my friends to thank you in the blessing and trust you in the troubles. May we never be lulled by prosperity or shaken by the troubles that come our way. In Jesus’ name.