2 Thessalonians 1:3
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. (NIV)
Paul is expressing his thanks because of what the people are doing in maturing in their faith. All people are gifts from God, even our enemies because the Lord uses all of our relationships, good and bad, to grow and mature us. But what came to my mind this morning is that we should be living a life for others that would prompt them to be thankful. Of course, there are some people who will never appreciate us even if we could perform miracles on the spot. But we must be evaluating our life to assess whether the way we are interacting and the focus of our energy gives people a reason to be thankful.
Are we living a life that adds value to others or steals from it?
The people of Thessalonica have been experiencing trials and tribulations. How do we respond when we are suffering? For Paul, this group of people was responding to their hardship with increasing faith and enduring love.
Can I be honest? I can get in a bad mood when something goes wrong in the morning and I am running late for a meeting. I am not sure that the drivers around me are giving thanks as we jostle for position along the roadway. But regardless of our circumstances, our call is to live always so others are blessed by our presence.
If we can reframe our hardship as a good, sweaty workout building our spiritual muscles, we might respond differently. Instead of playing the victim, we can find a sense of fulfillment in knowing what God is allowing us to experience is only going to make us better spouses, parents, friends, and Christ-servants. Then, perhaps, we will find a way to consider what troubles us most as pure joy because we know it is a refining of our soul.
Our society pushes the victim card so hard. We feel justified in self-pity. Others enable our defeatism by indulging our victim mentality instead of holding us accountable to our call to respond to pain with greater faith and increasing love.
Prayer: Lord, convict me when I wallow in the filth of self-pity. Let me use the pain as an opportunity for greater faith and increasing love to give others a reason to be thankful for us even as they encounter us in our struggles. Amen.