Once again I’m including my post from http://66books.wordpress.com. This is a great way to read through the Bible in a year. Hopefully you will find the words below helpful in these waning days of 2009.
This Leader’s View:
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to give thanks to God always to you, brethren, even as it is meet, for that your faith growth exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure; which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: if so be that it is righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you, and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, eveneternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day. To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil every desire of goodness and everywork of faith, with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (American Standard Version)
Paul calls the church in Thessalonica a model in his first letter to them. In the passage above and especially the bolded italicized section you see Paul’s burning love and pride for this church. They suffered for the gospel in ways that we have a hard time comprehending. What is fascinating is these first century Christ-followers were counted worthy to suffer. We usually think of suffering coming because of wrong-doing and sin, not as a privilege. What a revolutionary thought. I am taking a bit of license here to include a 21st century example of this attitude. During this past Thanksgiving weekend Pastor Matt Chandler was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was operated on last week. You can click on the following link and hear his words for being counted worthy of his trials he is going through. This is as recent as just a couple of days ago. (http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/blog/hvpastor/)
Do you, do I think of suffering or trials being something we can be worthy of? I think of the things I am struggling with right this minute — situations in my life that have been with me for over 30 years — do I see them as something God has brought my way because I’m worthy? Because I’ve been a model and now He can trust me to be a model through this struggle? If you’re like me, you will shy away from looking at it from that perspective. And yet there it is! So I think what we need to do is search our own hearts, is it sin or is it because of worthiness? Only you can ascertain that. It gives me much food for thought in these waning days of 2009. Perhaps I’ve missed the whole point in some of these situations.
Father God help us all to be worthy of the suffering you bring our way. Help us to know what it is — sin, or privilege — that puts us in the situations we find ourselves in at the moment. We want to be models for You like the church in Thessalonica was. Help us to be those models to a watching world. We love you Father. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!