No one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)
Christians should not be surprised by adversity that comes as a result of our faith. Instead, we should expect and embrace it. Nor should should we hide, water down, try to avoid, or be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). Rather, we should gladly and firmly display it as your identity and eternal hope—regardless of the associated hardship.
The Apostle Paul fully expected to “suffer tribulations” for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He warned us to be prepared for the same. The Apostle Peter added the rationale behind such persecution. “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” But he also explained the reward. “Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12). Even Jesus forewarned His followers, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Yet, lest we become discouraged or fainthearted, He added, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
As a word of caution, be aware that our spiritual enemy targets us when we experience adversity (1 Thessalonians 3:5). Just as he attacked Jesus in the wilderness temptation, Satan attacks us when we are hurting, weak, and vulnerable. He does not play fair. He does not give us a break to regroup, recover, or even catch our breath. At our low points, he intensifies his assault with his usual weapons of pain, fear, guilt, anxiety, or doubt.
Yet, in those frightening, painful moments, we hold the power to imitate Jesus and break the enemy’s onslaught. We accomplish this by seeking shelter in God’s Word. “It is written” must be our battle cry as we put on His armor and rely on His promises, presence, and protection.
Adversity will eventually come. However, there is comfort in knowing it is part of God’s sovereign orchestration. In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider God’s overall involvement. “Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
When the storms of affliction blow across your life, rejoice in knowing God appointed them. If they come as a result of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, be encouraged that He considered you worthy and capable of bearing it.
Concept excerpted from “Deck Time with Jesus” (copyright 2018)