But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8
Paul, concerned about the church in Thessalonica, sent Timothy to visit them that he might obtain a first-hand report on their progress. When Timothy returned, Paul (who I am sure intended to encourage the church) was instead fortified by the Thessalonian believers! Their steadfast perseverance in the face of severe persecution was a reminder of the importance of the gospel message. In Paul’s words, we too gain some insight into why we must endure trials, difficulties, and afflictions.
First, trials purify us for God’s service. Affliction is a teacher and a furnace for the removal of temporal earthly ideals. Second, God uses the life of one going through affliction to encourage others who may also be suffering. We (by His power) “stand firm” that they might “live.” Finally, difficulties remind us of our own limitations. We all will soon face something that, in our own power, cannot be “fixed.” It is in times such as these that we look to that Person from whom our help must come.
Remember, the life of a Christ-follower is lived out in the open for all to see and God uses every part of that life to tell His story. Do not resist the telling of yours.
God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain. – C. S. Lewis