Good Words for Bad Days
II Thessalonians 1
Bad words may be the first to come to mind when times are hard and things come crashing down on you. But our text has some encouragingly good words God wants to remind us of, particularly right now.
Have you ever noticed that some Christians seem to have more problems than others? If it weren’t for bad luck they’d have no luck at all! But then there are some and everything seems to just fall their way.
There may be no observable reason for why problems come on this cursed world. Maybe you can search your heart and find no willful sin in your life. You know you aren’t perfect, but you are sincerely trying. And you find yourself asking, “Why me, Lord?”
It’s not wrong to ask this, because for every trial there is a purpose. One of the saddest things I ever see is ‘purposeless’ suffering.
Ill.—they say that when the Civil War ended and Lee surrendered that the southern boys wept at hearing the news...for they felt that all their suffering and losses were for nothing.
But what you are going thru has not caught God off guard. It’s no surprise to Him. Paul writes this letter because since his first letter the troubles and persecutions have greatly increased for these young believers.
Even Christ on the cross asked God why was He forsaken when His Father turned His back on Him because of our sins laid upon Him.
To make matters worse, someone wrote a letter to them, forging Paul’s name, stating that it’s the end of the world...their tribulation is because the tribulation has begun!
Paul encourages them, just contrast his greeting in the first letter and the second:
1 Thessalonians 1:3
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
2 Thessalonians 1:3
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
What brings about this growth?
v. 7 Trouble helps us to grow. God has a purpose.
1. Your Faith is Growing!
Faith can grow, but it must be exercised. It must be stretched.
Ill.—if someone asked you on your wedding day if you trust the person you are marrying you would say yes, because they are promising to be faithful, giving me their word, and pledging themselves to me. But if you were asked years later if you trust them, you wouldn’t answer the same way. You wouldn’t say, ‘because they said I could trust them I do’. You would say, ‘because they have proven themselves.’ They have passed the test. They have stood the test.
Our faith can grow and increase...but only as we are tested.
“Jesus, Jesus, How I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.”
2. Your Love is Growing!
v. 3 ‘love aboundeth’
It’s a picture of a river overflowing its banks. At salvation God puts His love into our hearts. But what causes that love to overflow into the lives of others? Answer: Suffering, trials, heartaches, and tribulation.
Some react wrong and grow bitter when things go wrong, instead of growing better. But God has a good even for bad days.
Ill.—Dr. Lee Roberson, before he was anyone of notoriety at all, was preaching in a tent crusade. It was 1946. He was sitting with his hosts for tea when he got word that his 2 year old baby daughter Joy had suddenly fallen ill and died. She had been fine that morning. He said he felt as if the sun fell out of the sky, and the world was coming to an end. He drove home 200 miles to Chattanooga, TN, where a couple days later they had a service for Joy. He decided to trust God thru it all, and went back to finish the tent crusade. There he made a decision to do something in her honor, and try to do something for other children. He bid on some land...$3,000. It was worth twenty times that even in those days, but no one bid against him. That summer he started Camp Joy, and it remains today one of most successful youth camps in America, where countless decisions have been made for Christ. He returned to his church and made a comment about someday wanting to start a Bible College. It was an off hand remark, but men in the church rose to their feet in support, voting, giving funds, and that night in that very service, w/ no students, teachers, curriculum or money, Tennessee Temple University began. Thru the years it pumped out tens of thousands of some of God’s best servants all around the world.
Perhaps there’s no better therapy to the hurting heart than reaching out to others!
Paul says, your faith and love are growing, thru trials.
3. Your Hope is Growing!
v. 4 ‘endure’ means bearing under the load...to keep on keeping on. Bitterness leads to retreat, giving up, and running away. But yielding to trials leads to endurance and strengthening of hope.
Don’t give up hope. Though you may not clearly see the reason for things, you can trust and believe that God is still working behind the scenes. He makes no mistakes. He’s a righteous God.
Ill.—Job suffered like few men have and could see no rhyme nor reason for it. He didn’t know that his trials were planned in the counsel chambers of heaven. He didn’t know that Satan had to get God’s permission to try him at all. But in blind, groping darkness he said, Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him!
Trials are designed to make our faith grow upward, our love grow outward, and our hope grow onward!
Don’t allow your suffering to be purposeless.
Dr. Jack Hyles wrote the following poem after the annoyance of trying to help many others with their problems when he had plenty of his own:
[lengthy, but comical, powerful, and worth it!]
"I have a burden, Pastor, that
I'd like to lay on you."
I listened, tho he never knew
I had a burden too.
I took a tearful look toward mine;
Then his came into view.
'Twas plain to see my burden was
The larger of the two.
I saw his load alongside mine,
And, tho they both were real,
The yoke he bore was made of wood,
And mine was made of steel.
To him I said, "Come unto me;
I'll gladly carry thine";
Then whispered unto selfishness,
"But who will carry mine?"
I softly laid my burden down
To help him his to bear,
While knowing that my heavy load
I'm not allowed to share.
I'll help him with his burden, then
Regain mine after while,
When I will sigh and weep once more,
While now I force a smile.
I felt the CHAINS OF BONDAGE till
A CAPTIVE came to me.
He bade me help him break the bands,
And aid him to be free.
I saw the fetters binding him,
And felt a pity pain.
For his were made of little rope,
And mine of heavy chain.
I laid aside my heavy chains,
So he, my help, could borrow.
I'll help free him of bondage now,
And think of mine tomorrow.
A DOUBTER knocked at study door;
I had an urge to groan,
"Why bring your pebble doubt to me,
When mine is made of stone?"
I smiled at him and listened, while
Believing in my doubt.
I laid it down reluctantly,
And feigned a happy shout.
I sat ALONE in darkened room,
And felt a shadow's knife.
Another came to share with me
Some darkness in his life.
As I compared my night with his,
His dark possessed a lack.
For his was just an evening shade,
While mine was midnight black.
I slowly laid my nighttime down,
To help him seek for light.
I'll tread my dimming path again,
When I have made his bright.
A TROUBLED SOUL came to my door,
A problem to confide.
I had a problem, too, that day;
'Twas hard for me to hide.
My problem was a mountain steep,
And his was just a hill.
My problem was an ocean wide,
And his a tiny nil.
Yet, 'tis my lot to fill his need,
And put mine on the shelf.
For I must lay my heartache down,
And hide it from myself.
He told me of a broken heart,
While mine was breaking too.
I told him of a mending God
Who maketh all things new.
He told me of his thirsty soul;
I gave him living water.
He said he was a broken vase;
I told him of the Potter.
Another came when I was SICK
To say he had the flu.
His fever was a hundred-one,
And mine a hundred-two.
Another came when I was FAINT,
To say that he was weak.
Another came when I was DUMB,
To say he could not speak.
Another WEEPING SEEKER came,
For me, his tears to dry.
I went alone and wiped my eyes,
Then told him not to cry.
Another came when I was TIRED,
To say he needed rest.
I lifted him with weary arms,
And tried to give him zest.
AND NOW, IT'S LATE, and all have gone,
Each one to his abode.
So I must find my problems, and
Regain my heavy load.
Where is the burden I had borne?
I had it while ago!
Where is the problem I must solve?
I left it here, I know!
Where is the darkness I once knew?
I now see only light.
The chains, the tears, the pains, the fears,
Are nowhere now in sight!
I cannot find my broken heart!
Where is my fevered brow?
I have a song! the tears are gone!
I cannot find them now!
My sickness, now, hath turned to health!
And trust replaceth fright!
Assurance covers all my doubts;
My darkness now is light!
I heard a voice from Heaven say
"My child, 'tis always true:
When you take care of others' needs,
I will take care of you."
These are good words for bad days!
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