Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12.
The believers in Thessalonica faced persecution daily. Some endured physical attack, many lost their jobs, and others had their property destroyed. Some even faced imprisonment or worse. But in spite of their great suffering, they did not lose hope. That is why the apostle Paul could encourage them, "We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
We are never more like Christ than when we are looking up to God in hope.
Paul had faced his own share of persecution and hardship, so he recognized the beauty of the Thessalonians' faith. He could see they were looking up when others in their situation would have been cast down. The difference, of course, is Jesus. He brings light into darkness, comfort in times of pain, hope in seasons of despair.
We are never more like Christ than when we are looking up to God in hope. That is true Christlikeness. This is how we not only survive but thrive when others are looking down at earth in despair as the world falls apart. God is the one who empowers us to fix our eyes on Him. He gives us the supernatural ability to persevere, even soar, when we have no strength and all hope is gone.
This kind of faith doesn't come from denying the reality of sin and evil. The Bible never pretends evil is not real, nor does it minimize pain and suffering. Instead, the Bible declares that things will not always be the way they are right now. When Jesus returns, He will transform the world. Here and now, Christ's glory is concealed, His children are falsely accused, and His righteous power is hidden from the world. But one day, maybe sooner than we think, the Truth will be fully revealed, and all things will be made new.
The Thessalonians knew that, and it sustained them in dark times. As we edge closer to the end of history, make sure you too are lifting your eyes to heaven. Put your trust in Jesus. Faith in Him is the only thing that will sustain you when hardship comes.
Prayer: Lord, help me to lift my eyes to You when my days are dark. I know You will give me all the strength I need to persevere in hope. Grant me Your nearness when my heart faints, that I might have peace that transcends understanding because of Your great love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).