Growing In Faith and Love

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, we boast  about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring . . . May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 1: 3 -4; 3: 5

Isn’t it the most amazing thing to see how our love and faith can grow as we go through difficult times together? How grateful we are to have those who care about what we are going through and are there with love, support, and prayers.

There are so many individuals around us who have a devastating illness, who have suffered a terrible loss, or who are experiencing some painful circumstances in their lives. Some involve children and they pull at our heartstrings even more. All of these situations affect entire families, communities, and even those of us who don’t know them personally, but have heard or read their stories. We are deeply concerned about what they are going through, we pray for them and their families, and our hearts ache at the thought of their pain. So many of these stories are filled with examples of how God is touching so many lives in the most amazing ways – even those who haven’t been physically present, but have been there with their love and encouragement. God brought us together through our love and faith in Him, and what wonderful things He has been able to do.

All of us need others – we need their love, strength, and their words of hope and encouragement. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, we see in the above verses how he and his companions encouraged the new believers in their faith. Paul wanted them to know that his love and prayers were with them as they experienced persecutions and trials, and he wanted them to remember to pray for and support each other.

Paul reminded them to let “the Lord direct their hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance”. He wanted them to grow in appreciation of the depth of God’s love for them, and he knew once they realized how great His love was, their own love for God would grow deeper, as would their faith. Instead of being distraught over their situations, he wanted them to have the assurance of God’s love, strength, and grace to carry them through whatever came their way. And as they endured the trying times, it was his hope that they would hold on to the steadfastness of Christ by remembering what He did for them on the cross. Christ Himself was the true example of perseverance, trust, and patience as He followed the will of His Father.

This message of encouragement is for all of us, as well. Remembering the depth of God’s love and the sacrifice Christ gave, reminds us that we too can have the strength of Christ to do all things. We too need to remember during these painful times to let God direct and refocus our hearts on His tender and infinite love for each of us. May we lift others up with the reminder of His love, comfort, and strength. As we hold on to our steadfast faith in Him, may we too have the assurance that we will be able to get through these difficult circumstances and help others around us do the same. May we pray for those who are suffering, and for those who are helping to love and support their loved ones through these trying times. And may we pray that the love and faith of each of us will grow and that God will use us in a mighty way to show others to Him.

Prayer

Dear God, we thank you for your love and grace to get through difficult situations and to help others do the same.  May we pray for them and their loved ones and lift them up with reminders of your faithfulness, love, and strength to do all things through you.  Help us to trust in your mercy and in your purpose for our lives. Amen 

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