But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8
A genuine and deep bond was formed between Paul and the believers in Thessalonica. Paul had sensed that suffering was coming. Indeed, persecution and conflict was already beginning when he left the new believers there. Later, to find out how they were doing, Paul would send Timothy… who brought back a good report of their faithfulness to the gospel. I love how Paul says that standing firm in the Lord, in opposition to persecution, is ‘really living’! In doing so, a fond affection is built between us and others who are willing to do the same.
What distress and affliction am I facing for Christ’s sake? How am I really living?
God, I know my troubles are very very small in comparison to the great affliction facing Christians in Muslim nations, the Hindu persecution of Christians in India, and the way that Christians suffered in Indonesia and in many other places and times.