2 Thessalonians 1
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Imagine being part of a church plant, where the founding evangelists and teachers are so encouraged and thankful to God by the news of your faith and growing maturity in adversity, that they write to tell you this. They are also so thrilled with your faith, love and perseverance that they actually tell other churches about your witness and faithfulness. Just bear in mind, these words are being said about a context of ongoing difficulty.
What would all this tell you about this church? Well, it is helpful to remember that faith in Jesus is not just a once in a lifetime event. Faith in God and His many promises found in Scripture is something that must grow. It is a journey and it is usually through trials that our faith grows as trials test faith. During these times do we cry out to our Lord and trust that He has our best interests at heart in these crisis? Our faith grows when we do, although circumstances may not change. Conversely, accusing God of not caring, grumbling and complaining will invariably cause our faith to shrink. Growing faith is healthy faith so this church is obviously healthy because their faith is persevering despite difficulty.
Over the last four years, a close friend has buried her mother, mother-in-law, two older brothers, one of whom had schizophrenia, the other she cared for 3–4 months during which time he had both legs amputated. She has seen two of her grown up children have major surgery and also witnessed her husband narrowly escape death when he fell off the roof of a building where he was working. These events meant she travelled eight times in an ambulance with a close relative to hospital. At times, yes, she has been exhausted, but she is a great encouragement to me as a sister in Christ. She continues to serve the Lord in her local church where her faith is unwavering and her love is undiminished.
A healthy church is also one which has increased faith in God and love for one another. Paul thanks God for the progress made at Thessalonica because he knows that it is only when believers depend on the Holy Spirit and His power that is it possible to grow in faith and love.
Application: Pray for yourself, your family and for other Christians, that the Lord would increase our faith in Him and love for one another, especially in difficult circumstances.