1 Thessalonians 1:6 – You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
One of the most remarkable things that I have seen over the years is the amount of faith people possess, even in the most tragic and trying of circumstances. I can remember one old lady who didn't have a lot of resources and whose life had been full of tragedy and misery. She had suffered a great deal of physical and emotional pain throughout her life, yet she wrote some of the most spiritual poems I have ever seen or heard.
Those poems became her greatest treasure in old age, and whenever I stopped by for a house call, she would read to me her latest works. Most of them sounded like the psalms and she wrote them in King James English. Time after time, I marvelled at how she could write such beautiful poems, especially in the light of her painful past. In spite of her severe suffering, she expressed Christ's message with a joy that could have been given to her only by the Holy Spirit.
When she died, her family kept her books of poems, and today they still share them with other people. The old lady's words continue to inspire others to hold on to their faith, and to look to God for help in the midst of all of their troubles.
Perhaps life is presently hard for some of us, and we are experiencing emotional and physical pain. Those are not easy burdens to bear and sometimes we feel destitute of hope or abandoned by God. But what Paul and other people reveal to us is that faith can help us through the worst of experiences and the worst of times, leading us on to something better and brighter.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, when it came to suffering, Your experience was terrifying and tragic. You underwent a gruelling time of shame and pain, isolation and vulnerability, torture and torment. But by the grace of God and through Your faith in His love, You rose above that painful death into a newer, stronger and eternal life. Help us in the midst of all our troubles, to look for that hope which faith brings, and to find joy once more in the Holy Spirit. In Your sacred name, we pray. Amen.