Lent Day 17–Suffering: Witness at its Best

One of the sure signs of genuine Christian faith is how we react to suffering.  When the going gets tough, the Christian keeps going.

An irony of the Christian faith is: Historically, its growth was most marked in the very times in which it was under the greatest persecution.  Nothing reveals our trust more than when we have no logical reason to trust…at all. 

When all we get for our faith is trouble and heartache and pain, it witnesses in a peculiar and unexpected way that our hope isn’t in our circumstances.  Our hope is not in ourselves.  Our hope is not in a president or prime minister or government officials or programs of any type. 

     Our hope is in Christ alone.

I love today’s passage, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, because it highlights this very thing.  These people—under severe persecution—had visible work produced by faith; visible labor prompted by love; and visible endurance inspired by hope in Jesus Christ. 

What was seen (their work, labor, and endurance) pointed to what could not be seen:  faith, love and hope.

Paul goes on to say that these Thessalonians welcomed the message with joy in spite of the persecution and suffering that accompanied it.  And it was their visible joy—without ready explanation in circumstances or of themselves—which was seen by a watching world as evidence of genuine faith.

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

Do you want to have the kind of life that models hope for others?  I sure do!  The Apostle Paul says that it’s all about what you do—and where you turn—when the going gets tough.  It’s all about what is seen that reveals what is unseen.  Suffering—this is witness at its best.

The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia– your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (verses 8-10).

Categories Chapel Worship/News | Tags: | Posted on March 28, 2011

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