Afflictions and Tribulation

They're part of our Kingdom-and-glory calling.

1 Thessalonians 3 (2)

Pray Psalm 59.16, 17.

I will sing of Your power;
Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.
To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my defense,
My God of mercy.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3.4, 5.

1. What kinds of afflictions and tribulation should Christians expect?

2. How can we grow through affliction and tribulation, rather than be shaken by them? 

Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians grew out of his understanding of the situation he’d left behind in that Macedonian city. Already, those who had come to faith were being persecuted. From what he’d seen and experienced there, he must have imagined the situation could only have worsened.

We must not allow afflictions – whether they come from people or spirits – to shake us, that is, to cause us to slink back from faith. Afflictions and tribulation will come, and if we prepare for them, we can actually grow through them, rather than fall into fear and sin.

Paul told the Thessalonians, and now he tells us: Don’t expect your life as a believer to be all fun and feeling good. Afflictions and tribulations will come. We are appointed to this. Indeed, as John indicated in Revelation 1.9, trials of various kinds are par for the course in our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God. We need patience to endure, keeping our eyes on the Lord Jesus, and remembering how, in the midst of His greatest afflictions, He looked forward to the joy that awaited Him (Heb. 12.1, 2).

In fact, suffering for the Name of Jesus should encourage us, as it did the first apostles (cf. Acts 5.40-42), for it confirms God’s Word to us as well as our Kingdom-and-glory calling in Jesus Christ.

1. Paul advised the Thessalonians to expect afflictions and tribulations. How would you counsel a new believer to prepare for these?

2. We must not allow our faith to be shaken by afflictions and tribulation. In fact, we must seek to grow through these into greater maturity in the Lord. What kinds of growth should we expect to realize through afflictions and tribulation?

3. Believers in other parts of the world are daily afflicted with persecution and trials of various kinds. Do you pray for them? What are some things you might pray for persecuted believers?

You shouldn’t be troubled, Paul says, for nothing strange, nothing contrary to expectation is happening. These words were sufficient to encourage them. Christ spoke to his disciples in the same way and for the same reason. For hear him saying, “Now I have told you before it came to pass, that when it has come to pass you may believe.”For greatly indeed, greatly does it tend to the comfort of others to have heard from their teachers what is to happen.  John Chrysostom (344-407 AD), Homilies on 1 Thessalonians 3

Trials and afflictions await me today, Lord, and I want to grow through and not be shaken. Help me to prepare now as I…

Pray Psalm 59.1-17.

You may expect to be troubled today, if only by spiritual forces of wickedness in high places. Pray for yourself, and pray for those believers in other countries who are oppressed and persecuted for their faith. Call on the power, mercy, and defense of the Lord for yourself and all believers.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 59 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Deliver me from all my foes, Lord; set me on high secure away.
From all who seek to work me woe, Lord, deliver me from day to day.
For, lo, they seek to take my life; fierce foes advance to bring me strife!

Not for transgressions they assault me, nor any sin which I have done.
With nothing they can charge or fault me, and yet to trouble me they run.
Arouse Yourself, O Lord, awake, and come with haste my foes to break.

Like dogs at large within a city, they bark and howl fierce threats at me.
They boast of evil without pity, but You, O Lord, their treach’ry see.
Because of them I watch for You, O God my strength, forever true!

My God in steadfast love will meet me, and let me look triumphantly
on all my foes, who would defeat me did not He shield and shelter me.
That men may know Your pow’r, O Lord, subdue and rule them by Your Word.

But as for me, Your strength I’m singing; with joy I sing Your grace, O Lord!
My trials and troubles I am bringing to know the shelter of Your Word.
O God, my strength, I sing Your praise; You are my stronghold all my days.

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Order our workbook, God’s Covenant, and find out how all Scripture fits within this redemptive framework (click here).

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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