“…so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure…“
The growth of our faith should increase in two categories: persecutions and tribulations.
in all your persecutions and tribulations
The word “persecution” means to systematically organize a program to oppress and harass people by religion. This is affliction from without the church.
“Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).
“Tribulations” means pressures of any kind. The new believers in Thessalonica underwent severe as well as slight suffering. Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes both large and small. God frees none of us from trouble. Some of our troubles are small compared to others. Some of us have trouble with our husbands or wives. Some have pressures with their children. The doctor informs us that we have cancer. Some turn to alcohol. Others turn to God.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Notice that big little word “all.” God does not ask us to exercise our faith in most persecutions and tribulations but in “all” of them.
that you endure
“Endure” signifies to hold up against a thing and so to bear with again and again. Literally, it means to hold up repeatedly. They held up under persecution over and over. This is not a matter of gritting our teeth and toughing it out but a matter of orienting ourselves to God’s sovereignty in our situation. A believer who understands God’s providence in everything is a person who can tackle any problem. He can hang in there because he knows God processes everything that comes into his life.
God carefully designs adversity and prosperity so that we will become the kind of people He wants us to be.
There is one thing that we can count on: our circumstances will change. None of us can get through life with hostile humanity without trouble.
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:10-12).
There will come a day when we will face adversity. Life never remains the same. God does not guarantee that our circumstances will remain the same. There will be times of prosperity and times of adversity. God designs a certain amount of adversity and a certain amount of prosperity for every believer. He knows our tolerances. He wants to test us to see what kind of character we have.
Two character qualities are crucial when we enter into duress. 1) We need to develop a tough attitude and 2) we should extend our love to fellow Christians. When we develop these qualities, we do not feel sorry for ourselves or enter into a pity party.