2 Thessalonians 1 Lesson

Increasing Faith During Times of Adversity

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote about:

  1. Faith, love, and hope,
  2. Walking in a manner worthy of God,
  3. How God disciplines those that He loves,
  4. How hard work pleases God,
  5. The importance of encouraging one another.

Now, only a few months after writing his first letter, Paul writes to the Thessalonians a second time for four reasons:

  1. To offer thanksgiving for their spiritual growth,
  2. To encourage them during their time of persecution,
  3. To instruct the Thessalonians concerning the day of the Lord,  
  4. To exhort the Church to wait patiently for the return of Jesus.

PAUL REACTS TO THE PERSECUTION OF THE THESSALONIANS

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul lets them know how proud He is of them because they have not wavered in their faith or love for one another despite the persecution and suffering they were experiencing.  

Paul writes:

What does the above scripture mean?

How is the persecution of the Thessalonians an indication of God’s righteous judgment?  

By itself, it is not.   Anyone can be persecuted without it being evidence of the righteous judgment of God.   What separates the Thessalonians is how they are reacting to their persecution.   Their reaction to adversity reveals a deep commitment to doing God’s will, even when it is difficult. The Thessalonians demonstrated a willingness to persevere through whatever obstacles come their way.  

This is the type of faith that we should all strive for!

HOW TO STRENGTHEN OUR FAITH

As you read 2 Thessalonians, you may be asking yourself, “How can I grow my faith so that I too can persevere when adversity strikes?”

Fortunately for us, the Bible is clear about what we need to do to increase our faith.  We can increase our faith by:

  1. Studying the Bible regularly,
  2. Having a Godly attitude towards suffering.

We will look at these one at a time and then the lesson will be yours.

STUDYING THE BIBLE REGULARLY

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans approximately four years after his second letter to the Thessalonians. In his letter to the Romans, Paul had this to say about faith:

  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” - Romans 10:17.

This verse is key to understanding how we can increase our faith and be better prepared for whatever persecution and adversity we may face. Regular Bible study needs to be a part of our daily lives.

The better we understand what the Bible says, the better we will be able to apply the right scripture at the right time to help us through difficult circumstances.

When it comes to increasing our faith, there are no shortcuts. We must understand and be able to interpret what God’s word tells us.

  • “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” - 2 Timothy 2:15

HAVING A GODLY ATTITUDE TOWARDS SUFFERING

How do we react when we are suffering?

How should we react?

For today’s lesson, we will cover two points, supported by scripture, that will assist us in having a Godly attitude towards suffering:

  1. Do not be surprised when suffering occurs – the bible is clear that we all will suffer at some point in our lives. Consider the following three scriptures: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” – Philippians 1:29. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12.
  2. Do not drive yourself crazy trying to figure out, “Why this happened.”   Our Creator sees things that we cannot, and He has a plan for us.  The first thing that we need to understand is that we are not meant to understand everything that God does. He is God, and we serve Him. Not the other way around. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.   “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9.   Once we understand and accept that we will not understand everything that God does, we need to submit to His will and trust His plan. His plan is something that we need to embrace, because God has our best interest at heart. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11.  

CONCLUSION

When adversity strikes, how do we react?

What testimony do we give to others by what we say and what we do during challenging times?

If we spend our time complaining about our circumstances and focusing on the negative, we do not glorify God, and we do not help others with their problems.

A much better approach to handling adversity is to focus on these two things:

  1. Increasing our faith through regular Bible study (Romans 10:17). If we are increasing the amount of time that we are spending in God’s word, we are likely experiencing, or about to experience a period of spiritual growth.  
  2. Having a Godly attitude towards suffering. When adversity strikes, we need to remember that God has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9. This requires humility on our part and a willingness to submit to God’s plans, not ours.

We will conclude today’s lesson with the following scripture taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans:

  • “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.

Comments

Dan

A doctor lecturing to a group of ministers about cancer said that the issue is not “why me” but “why not me?” Accept that bad things happen to all people. God has His will for how bad things can help us by refining us.

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James Guillory

Great answers!!

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Dan

A doctor lecturing to a group of ministers about cancer said that the issue is not “why me” but “why not me?” Accept that bad things happen to all people. God has His will for how bad things can help us by refining us.

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