“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
There is a line of teaching in some churches that emphasizes a false idea that a relationship with Christ equals a life without hardship of any kind. You might call it the health and wealth gospel of prosperity preachers. You might call their messages inspirational or motivational, but those teachers do a lot of harm to those who listen because life without hardship is nothing but fantasy and 2020 proves it at some level, doesn’t it?
In the verses above, Paul recognized that people in the middle of a trial, need to be encouraged and strengthened in their faith and so he sent his son in the faith, Timothy, to do just that.
Let’s think about persecution for a moment. Some kind of resistance should be expected at some point regarding our faith. At a later date, Paul wrote to Timothy – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). All around the world there are churches today facing real persecution. There are some people who are punished for their faith. Some have lost their lives. While it hardly compares at this point, one church in California was recently fined for meeting indoors.
God shows strength in our times of trouble. Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians – “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” ( 2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul recognized the source of his strength even when times are difficult.
So just as when Paul sent Timothy “to strengthen and encourage” the Thessalonians with these words, we should also be encouraged that while difficulties may be present, we can be assured that God is always with us.