Dr. Barry Thornton
It’s easier to give in or give up, especially if the journey presents
obstacles that test or try our faith. Yet, we are encouraged to know that perseverance will yield success.
The contemplation of struggle without hope leads to utter despair. Yet Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, New King James Version). When we persevere through our struggles because of that promise, we endure.
An athlete will go through struggles in training because he has a vision of ultimate victory in mind. A farmer will endure the challenges of planting for the hope of harvest. And Christians know that enduring pain, trials, and disappointment ultimately gives way to the reality of faith realized and hope that is complete.
An Impending Struggle
Paul doesn’t paint a rosy picture concerning the impending struggle Christians must endure. His intent is to be realistic. All of us are going to face struggles as Satan attempts to exalt himself over God. Paul told Timothy that righteousness often leads to persecution. He reminds us that the Christian life is a battle that requires perseverance, hope, and a realistic assessment of our circumstances, understanding that Satan ultimately has a strategy for the failure of our faith.
An Ultimate Victory
In contrast to bad news, Paul’s ultimate message reflects ultimate victory. Paul wrote about “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thessalonians 2:16) that come directly from Jesus Christ and God the Father—even in the midst of the trials the Thessalonians were facing.
We, too, must persevere. There is always hope. In contrast to the trials we face, God is there to temper them with the good news, the gospel. It is our role to be like the postage stamp, sticking to one thing until we reach our ultimate destination; and, that one thing is him!
Dr. Barry Thornton and his wife, Janet, live in Moberly, Missouri, where he serves as director of development, instructor, and church consultant with Central Christian College of the Bible.