I don’t know why it happens, but sometimes shortly after a person commits (or recommits) their life to Christ they experience incredible suffering, trials, or persecution… Well, on the other hand and upon second thought, I do know… The “Enemy” – the “Adversary” – Satan would love to see them falter and fail! He would love to see them abandon their faith in Christ and return to their old way of life, so he attacks them.
When this happens authentic Spiritual leaders, the Christian community and those who have been involved in bringing them to faith in Christ cannot stand idly by and do nothing!
Paul had presented the Gospel in Thessalonica in ancient Macedonia. Brand new believers had come to faith in Christ! A church was planted. (Acts 17:1-9) But these brand new believers – “Baby Christians” if you please were almost immediately subjected to severe persecution and trials. (1 Thessalonians 1:2 – 2:17) Apostle Paul was deeply concerned for their welfare and their spiritual stability! In fact, he sent Timothy, his personal representative to find out how they were doing! (1 Thessalonians 3:1-10)
That sets the stage for the passage I read this morning during “coffee with the Lord”- a passage that gives us a pattern for how we should respond when fellow Christians (especially brand new “baby Christians”) are facing incredible trials (even persecution)… We should 1) express gratitude for what the Lord has done (and is doing) in their lives; 2) we should come alongside them and encourage them to stand firm and not abandon their faith; 3) and finally, we should call down God’s blessing upon their lives as they seek to follow the Lord!
Here it is – all three things – right out of Paul’s second epistle to these believers…
“We can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord! We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. He called you to salvation when we told you the Gospel [the “Good News” of what Christ has done]; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.” (from 2 Thessalonians 2:13–17 NLT)