“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit…“
with joy of the Holy Spirit
The Thessalonians witnessed to the gospel under persecution “with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” The word “of” indicates that the origin, source or power of this joy is the Holy Spirit. Their joy came from the Holy Spirit.
In the face of extensive affliction and tribulation, they believed in their message and those who delivered the message. Not only did they carry their message with conviction in the face of tribulation, but they also had something more – “joy of the Holy Spirit.” Joy in tribulation goes against human nature because God gives us capacity to face trial in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:41-42).
Joy transcends persecution and trial in sharing our faith.
Some Christians do not share their faith with their friends because they fear that their friends will ostracize them. Other Christians know something of the “joy of the Holy Spirit” in witnessing. They know something of God’s sovereignty and control of any situation they might face. This gives them confidence to transcend human pressures or self-identity issues. People who can transcend their situations do not constantly complain about their problems.
Affliction in witnessing can show us how God sustains us under duress. The Christian possesses a special caliber of soul due to the joy of the Holy Spirit.
“…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14: 17).
Suffering and joy are not mutually exclusive. To the Christian, both can exist simultaneously.
“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8: 1-2 ).
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1: 6-9).
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).