“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” 1 Thess. 2:1-2. (ESV)
There is a dangerous form of Christianity spreading around the world, including here in the U.S. A common term for this false teaching is the “prosperity Gospel”. In essence, the prosperity Gospel teaches that if you give your life to Christ, He will bless you and prosper you in all ways, including in your finances. As you faithfully follow Christ, your life will be one of prosperity and happiness.
We don’t have to look very far in the New Testament to see that this teaching is simply not true. The verse for today is an excellent example of how the Apostle Paul clearly suffered while being faithful in spreading the Gospel. In these verses, Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica to remind them of the struggles he and his companions had prior to their arrival in Thessalonica. Even as he declared the Gospel in Thessalonica, Paul was caught up in conflict with those who opposed him.
As the life of Paul shows us, once you commit your life to Christ, there is no guarantee that your life will be prosperous or free from conflict. In fact, it may be the opposite.
Even if we don’t accept the prosperity Gospel, we can mistakenly believe that struggle within our lives is a sign that we are doing something wrong. We can wrongly believe that because we are being obedient to God, our lives should run smoothly. Remember, Paul didn’t experience that in his life. In 2 Corinthians chapter 11, Paul goes through a long list of tribulations he had to endure as part of his calling as an Apostle.
The life of Paul shows us that there is no correlation between a solid walk with Christ and a life without pain. When struggle or suffering enter into your life, don’t assume it is because you have done something wrong. Very possibly, it is because you have done something right!
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to face the inevitable pain and struggle this life has to offer.