What difference does God make?
Because the difference that God makes, makes all the difference in the world.
The two realities we are facing are this:
- distance from one another
- pain and suffering within ourselves
Paul’s Personal Reflection
- He missed his church: “we were orphaned by being separated”
- He tried to see them: “we made every effort to see you”
- He saw a leading an earthly church had eternal consequences: “Indeed, you are our glory and joy”
Paul’s strategy tells us this: Distance from one another does not diminish our direction or determination.
Paul sent Timothy for three key reasons:
If the New Testament Church expected severe trials, what makes you think we should be exempt?
“Suffering is not an obstacle to God’s purpose but a means to achieving it.” – Sinclair Ferguson
Trials build faith
“It doesn’t change how they feel pain, but they improve their ability to cope with that pain.” – Runner’s World Magazine June 9, 2017
What’s the difference that God makes?
- God adds meaning to what may seem like meaningless suffering.
- He will sometimes use the suffering to complete His work inside of you.
- It allows opportunity to build faith and our confidence in God and to build the faith of others that are watching us.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:9
TALK IT OUT
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20. How is what Paul describes in this passage similar to some of the conditions we are experiencing today due to COVID-19?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. According to this passage, what was one of Paul’s primary concerns about the Thessalonian believers? What did he do in response to that?
- Read Psalm 46:1-3, John 16:33 and Romans 8:28,35-39. Scripture doesn’t teach that God will protect us from every trial and hardship. What does it teach us instead?
- Read Romans 5:1-5, 2 Thessalonians 1:4 and James 1:2-4. Although trials and suffering are not pleasant while we are experiencing them, these passages tell us that they can bring about some positive results in our lives. Give an example of how a challenging time actually ended up having a positive impact on you or someone you know.
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:7. How have you been encouraged by someone’s faith during this COVID-19 crisis? How have you been able to encourage the faith of other people during this time?
LIVE IT OUT
- How have the current social-distancing mandates affected you personally? What steps are you taking – or could you begin to take – to make sure you stay connected with people during this time?
- What could you do to encourage someone’s faith this week?