Read 1 Thessalonians 3
No one is looking to be afflicted, but as believers, we know it is unavoidable. Often, we read Paul’s writing and admire how he endured persecution. This guy gets everything thrown at him from jail-time in Philippi to being shipwrecked and bitten by a snake. We become amazed by his stories. In this passage, Paul gives us a peek at the purpose of affliction by allowing us to see his personal response to the Thessalonians.
More times than not, I am guilty of manipulating a relationship to elevate my own status and my own gain; after all, it seems to be the American way. Paul does not work this way with the Thessalonians. Paul was forced out of Thessalonica earlier than expected, due to persecution. This left his heart longing to be with this young church. He knew they would be under attack from every direction. When Paul gets the news of their faithfulness, he is overwhelmed with joy to hear these young believers endured. He is encouraged by them to persevere. He realizes he has suffered alongside these people and that his cause has been worth it.
The beauty in this passage is not their afflictions, but how they used their afflictions. We cannot be so consumed in our world that we miss out on what God is doing. Your suffering has a kingdom purpose. Use your afflictions to serve others, encourage others, and lift up the body of Christ. Be beautifully afflicted.