Thursday 27 August 2009

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

"For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith." (v.7-10)

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13 Thursday 27 August 2009


Suffering is part and parcel of the Christian experience. It hasbeen said that when someone commits their life to Jesus, theproblems only just begin. This runs contrary to the 'conversion'misconception that someone whose life may have been full ofdifficulties prior to their conversion, suddenly finds everythingplain sailing. The latter scenario may be the situation for some,but is not the case for most. The apostle Paul is a good example ofsomeone for whom conversion heralded a lifetime of issues, as wellas blessings.

However, Paul's letters are filled with references of God's grace,on him and fellow believers. Many of his epistles begin withreferences to the grace of 'God the father of our Lord Jesus Christwho has blessed us with every blessing' (eg Romans1:7; Galatians 1:3,Ephesians1:2; 1Timothy 1:2Philemon3 etc). They clearly reveal that God stands besidesbelievers in their suffering and provides the assistance andsupport that will sustain. This reality invariably produces thetype of confidence that enables hope to overcome the obviousdistresses and hardships.

Interestingly, there is a human dimension to this redemptive workin the form of prayer, which allows intercessions to take place. Intoday's reading, the phrase: "Night and day we pray most earnestlythat we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking inyour faith," shows the value and virtue of prayer. In other places,Paul calls on believers to pray 'ceaselessly' (1 Thessalonians5:17) and intercede on behalf of those who are suffering.

Suffering takes many forms and can have many consequences. Today'sreading mentions the persecution faced by the early Christians inThessalonica, but we could substitute ancient Greece for a numberof places around the globe today where Christians face mistreatmentand discrimination because of their faith. Praying for those whoface various forms of persecution is not only a petition for divineintervention to bring about change; it also shows a capacity toempathise with those facing hardship. By holding up those whosuffer in prayer, we are 'standing in the gap' as well as besidesour brothers and sisters who suffer.

To Ponder

How often do you consider those who arepersecuted for their beliefs or politics?

How can our prayers make a difference? Take sometime today to pray for those you identified above.

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