Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the chapel of Worthington Christian High School. The title of my message was “True Faith Revealed” from 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13. WCS is a great school, my wife and brother in law are WCS graduates and my father in law was the high school principal. Needless to say there are some personal ties to this place.
Having graduated from a Christian college I understand that Christian school environments, especially in the suburbs, are by nature very safe and safety is a huge value. However, Christian schools cannot protect people from life. Many Christian high school students have not gone through events or circumstances that test their faith. But some day life will catch up with all people and everyone will face trials or suffering of some sort. These trials reveal our true faith.
Early in our dating my wife would often mention that she had never experience great trials and she would wonder what trials awaited her. I would try to assure her that not everyone faces extreme difficulty. However, in our case I was wrong. Her dad was diagnosed with brain cancer not long after we were married and her mom then with breast cancer. The points made from 1 Thessalonians 3 have been our experience.
My main point was: True Faith is Revealed Through Suffering.
- Suffering is God’s plan for confirming our faith
Paul says in 1 Thess. 3:3-4 that God’s people are destined for affliction and he even told the Thessalonian people that suffering is promised. He was fearful that their affliction would result in their abdication of the faith and his ministry would be in vain.
Suffering has a way of revealing our true colors. Want to know if someone is a follower of Jesus? Watch them suffer. The Parable of the Soils is helpful as we consider this.
2. Suffering Reveals our desperate need of other
Paul sent Timothy to encourage these brothers to keep going, keep believing and keep trusting in Christ. Suffering reveals we cannot go through trials on our own. We need the body of Christ.
3. Perseverance through suffering strengthens others
After hearing Timothy’s good report, Paul is strengthened by their faith. In the midst of suffering the Thessalonians continued to trust in Jesus. Going through suffering strengthens other people when they see the resolve of Christ.
I ended by discussing the gospel. Jesus Christ is a suffering God who suffered on our behalf and our sufferings point toward him. To say no one understands our suffering is to deny Jesus. Jesus understands. He has endured the greatest of suffering.
So when suffering and trials come your way (they will come your way) embrace them as an opportunity to have your faith confirmed, to be encouraged by others, and to be an example for others. Our faithful suffering points to our faithful savior who suffered for us.
You can listen to the message here