Persecution & Suffering: 16

In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 Paul says, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  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.”

We can see from this passage that receiving the Lord and His message in the context of severe suffering, and doing so with joy, is how we imitate the Lord, and please Him. This is also how we set an example for other believers. Paul had done this for the Thessalonians and they had in turn done that for those in the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia.

Such perseverance through suffering is inextricably intertwined with one’s testimony of the gospel. It serves as irrefutable evidence of one’s sincerity in turning away from any other commitment to serve God alone. It also demonstrates that He alone is worthy, that He alone is worth any amount of suffering. It points toward our unshakeable hope for eternal reward in the Lord.