Do you need encouragement in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you a Timothy to those in need of encouragement? In this article from OC Behold’s column, “Pastor’s Words,” Pastor Li Dongguang shares about why we suffer and the encouragement that we have in the face of suffering as Christians.
Why Do We Need to Suffer?
And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.1 Thessalonians 3:2-3
As a pastor, I often face the afflictions suffered by brothers and sisters in Christ. Some days ago, a brother was shot and severely injured by a robber who broke into his house. One couple has a tense relationship and fights often. Every time, I rush to the scene like a firefighter, helping to calm and advise them. One brother is in the prime of life, but has gotten cancer, and struggles between radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Life is full of afflictions: persecution, work tensions, academic pressures, societal conflicts, family fights, broken marriages, diseases, depression, etc., dogging our steps as closely as a shadow. These days, every country is shrouded in the global epidemic and economic decline.
In the midst of afflictions, it is inevitable that those who are weak become shaken. Case after case of appalling death, mass panic caused by the news of the epidemic spreading to our regions, economic recession, social upheaval, and various other challenges and difficulties are all assaulting our hearts and bodies.
In the face of massive winds and waves, even Jesus’ disciples cried out, “Master, we are perishing!” (See Luke 8:24). In the midst of various afflictions, has your faith been shaken?
In times of affliction, everyone needs to be encouraged and strengthened. Are you the one who can bring encouragement and strengthening to others? Or are you the one who needs to be strengthened and encouraged?
There is nothing that can strengthen and encourage us except the faith we hold. Dear brothers and sisters, let us encourage one another and comfort one another through the faith that we have, our faith in the eternal truth that cannot be broken and found in the Bible that is eternally unchanging.
The Bible tells us that the various afflictions we suffer have all been permitted by God. We must believe that, even in the midst of affliction, God is the eternal king in control. These afflictions never happen due to God’s negligence or loss of control. They are only permitted by God as part of the full blueprint of our lives so as to allow us to live out the fullness of his will. God sometimes adds some somber low tones and silent pauses on top of the light and joyful notes, so that the symphony of our lives is richer and more moving.
We should remember that, unless permitted by God, no affliction can fall on our heads. When God allows his children to suffer afflictions, he will also walk with us through them. He will hold our hands, support us, and even carry us through the storms of difficulties.
Timothy was once weak as well, but God strengthened him through Paul, so that he could strengthen and encourage others. Brothers and sisters, when we are suffering afflictions, remember that God also uses various afflictions to mold, refine, and build us up, so that we can bring strengthening and encouragement to others as well.
Dear Lord, who is in control of our lives, we look up to you in the various afflictions we experience. That we need to experience affliction is within your will. I thank you for sending many “Timothys,” who strengthen, comfort, encourage, and challenge us through the truth that we believe in. We are willing to grasp your hand, and listen to and accept the special lessons you have for us as we walk through the trying storms. In the precious name of our Lord, Amen!
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