And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 NKJV
Not many of us, here in the United States, can say they received the Word in much affliction. In Thessalonica, it was a different story. Paul describes how the new believers were afflicted upon receiving the Word of God, but he praised them as well. Even though it was rough on them, the believers were full of the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. Their simple act of enduring the hardship with joy made them examples to other believers around them.
Think about your own situation. Do you know a believer who has really gone through some difficult times in their life, and yet they always seem to wear a smile and be joyful through it? I believe this kind of worshipper is one who has their focus in the right place – it’s on God.
Second Corinthians 4:17-18 speaks of the right kind of focus: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The difficulties of life are working in us something far greater than we can image at the time. We keep our eyes on what’s eternal rather than what’s right in front of us and God provides the peace, joy, and strength to get through whatever is troubling us at the time. The way we choose to handle the messy stuff in life will cause Christ’s essence to stand out in our lives. We will be His witness, the salt of the earth, the light on a hill for all to see.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, you are always with us even when we don’t feel it. Thank you for giving us everything we need to live out a godly life until you return. In your precious name we pray. Amen.