From God’s word – Encouragement during difficult times

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By Toni Ford

Two of Paul’s earliest letters were written to a church of young believers that he had helped found in Thessalonica along with Timothy and Silas. These two letters were written to real people who were experiencing real problems. Most of us would say that we can identify with these people since we are currently living in a world with real problems. These problems are affecting us on a day to day basis, just as they were with the people in Thessalonica.

First Thessalonians is a letter from a spiritual father to his children. Paul knew the members were young in their faith and faced with many trials and persecutions, so he wanted to encourage them and remind them of all God had done for them up to that point.

Second Thessalonians was written to correct certain wrong ideas and wrong practices that had crept into the church relating to the doctrine of the Lord’s return. Trials and persecutions were growing and becoming more intense, which led some believers to think that they were living in the end times. Satan was working overtime to instill fear, doubt. They were experiencing significant physical, emotional and financial burdens in their lives, and many of these people were living according to the lies the enemy was feeding them. Does any of this sound familiar to today’s time and hour?

It was in response to these needs that Paul wrote his second letter, which begins by reminding and encouraging the believers to stay centered on the truths of God.

Be encouraged by your testimony. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 says, “We cannot help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.” Paul told the believers that he and his friends were continually giving thanks to God for each of them because of all of the great reports they were hearing. He told the Thessalonians that they might not be able to see it, but others saw how their faith is growing, their love for one another abounding and their perseverance under pressure increasing. All those things were serving as an encouraging testimony for others.

Be encouraged by the Lord’s promise. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 says, “In his justice, he will pay back those who persecute you. And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.” Paul reminded the people that judgement will come to those who refuse to obey the Lord. For those who seek to obey Him, God will provide the rest and strength needed to endure the hard times.

Be encouraged by the prayers of others. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” Many times, we need the prayers of others just to help us get through the day. Paul wanted the people to know that there were other believers praying for them daily. We do not have to go through life alone, and one of the greatest ways we can support one another is through prayer.

During these times when our world is constantly changing and presenting more challenges than ever, may we all be reminded that others are watching us to see how we handle these challenging times. They are watching us to see how we love and respond to those around us. Be encouraged to know that the Lord wants to give you rest in these hard times, and that while you rest, He is fighting your battles for you.

Be encouraged knowing that myself and others are coming alongside you and praying for the Lord to give you strength, protection and provision in all areas of your life. Most of all remember that the Lord’s heart is always for you and His love is always covering you!

If you would like me to join you in prayer, please e-mail me at tonif77@gmail.com. I would love to pray for you!

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