I was wrong.
A church I drive past every day on the way to work once read, "When Christians serve, Satan attacks." I believe that. Jesus basically told us the exact same thing in John 16:33, when He said, will ALL have trouble in this life. In other Bible verses, we're told to expect to be persecuted for serving the Lord. The word of God is literally filled with promises that we won't find life on this earth to be easy, regardless how hard we work to serve or how hard we try to be righteous.
That doesn't mean our service to the Lord is pointless. In fact, today's passage reminds us we can draw strength from the fruits of our labor, even during our own darkest hours.
" 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9
Paul's previous work with the Thessalonians had delivered results. Their faith was obvious and they were actively striving to live lives pleasing to God. Their faith and their strength in the Lord were fruits of the labor of Paul and his helpers.
When Paul was suffering, distressed, and persecuted, the news of his impact on the Thessalonians encouraged him. Rather than wallow in self pity, rather than resenting God for not making his life easy, rather than quitting his ministry when things got tough, Paul looked to the Thessalonians and saw the result of God working through him. He realized that God was accomplishing great things through his service.
Paul could look to these followers of Christ who originally heard the message from him, and see that God's light was shining through him. The message of Jesus Christ was being carried around the world through him and through those reached through him.
And when most would have expected him to faint, to falter, to fail, his strength was renewed and he endured the suffering, the persecution, and continued to serve.
We should all work to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. All of us will find ourselves struggling at times. And when we think we can't go on, we'll be able to look back and see all that God accomplished through us. From that, we'll find the strength to endure, to go on.
So work hard at God's will. Share the Gospel and help lead others to Christ. Let Jesus work through you so He will be glorified and you will draw strength in troubled times.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.