We all know that Christians in the first century faced great tribulations. They endured severe testings, hard times, persecutions that were life-and-death. But they didn’t break down under the stress. Paul says the church in Thessalonica endured the loss of everything they owned, yet these believers were not rocked by the experience.
Paul attributes their strength to the power of the Holy Spirit: “Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power; and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance … And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6).
These believers had been “much afflicted,” yet they possessed true joy. They didn’t complain about their circumstances and they didn’t question God. Instead there was rejoicing among that body of believers. And Paul told them, “You became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth … Your faith toward God has gone out” (1:7-8).
In America, the greatest problem is stress. There is widespread anxiety about the future, about job security. Some families are on the verge of losing everything and are succumbing to despair. Multitudes of elderly people are in pain because they cannot pay for their medications and it is heartbreaking.
In the midst of this chaos, there is hope! You see, there is living in us the Spirit of Almighty God and his Christ. The Holy Spirit is working in us in great power … at this very moment! His power is released as we receive him as our burden bearer. The Holy Spirit was given to us for this very reason, to bear our cares and worries.
Beloved, God allowed every one of Paul’s trials and it forced the apostle not to rely on himself, but to fully trust the Holy Spirit to deliver him. Scripture says, “And having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). Let God do it all and he will accomplish your deliverance.