May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
In times of crisis it’s hard to ignore suffering. It’s everywhere and tends to overwhelm our senses and sentiments.
Just yesterday, I comforted someone who burst into tears when I least expected it. On Monday, I attended a funeral and got the opportunity to encourage a broken-hearted widow.
If I’m honest, I don’t know how I’d fare if I didn’t have faith in Jesus and the knowledge that in spite of suffering, God reigns. In the verse above, Paul offers the Thessalonians words of encouragement. His hope is that they will fully understand and be able to express God’s love while they patiently wait in Christ.
Our hearts need the same comfort.
Early Christians were not only familiar with suffering, they expected it. Both the Old and New Testaments contain examples of people in extreme distress. In addition to Jesus, Job, Jeremiah and James are pros at standing firm in faith.
In a word, suffering sucks. But it also has purpose: it refines, clarifies and hopefully, brings us closer to the God of love and endurance. My hope is that if you’re in a season of suffering or knows someone who is, these scriptures will increase your understanding and give you strength to endure:
Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for God sent this suffering to keep you from a life of evil. Job 36:21
Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Isaiah 49:13
Then I said, “Lord, you know what’s happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don’t let me die young. It’s for your sake that I am suffering. When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Jeremiah 15:15-16
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love. Romans 5:3-5
Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:11-12
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:3-4
For Good called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. 1 Peter 4:19
Today, ask God for extra strength and for opportunities to be a comfort to others. He is generous and longs for a rich and deep relationship with us!