That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
(1 Thessalonians 3:3,4)
Here is a statement that is a little hard for any of us to swallow. Paul says that we should not be disturbed by “these afflictions,” that is, pressures and tensions. Then he makes the amazing statement that “we are appointed thereunto.” We know that we are going to go through storms. They will be temporary, but we cannot escape them. We are going to have trouble down here; the Word of God makes that very clear. Paul wants the Thessalonians to stand for the Lord in the midst of afflictions.
There are other passages of Scripture that teach this same truth. The Lord Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Tribulation is the trouble that all of us are going to have. There is no way around it. Yet the Lord Himself tells us to be of good cheer even in the midst of trouble.
If you are a believer, you are not going to escape trouble. To accept Christ does not mean to take out an insurance policy against suffering. The fact of the matter is that you will have trouble after you become a child of God, even if you haven’t had any trouble before. He has never promised that we would miss the storm, but we will go through all the storms of life. What He does say very definitely and dogmatically is that He will go with us through the storms and that we will reach the harbor. Any boat that He is in will not go to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee but will reach the other side. You and I are in the process of going to the other side.
The time to be concerned is when there is no cloud in the sky, no ripple on the sea, and everything is smooth and nice. Then you might question your salvation. But if you are experiencing trouble down here, if the pressures and tensions of life are on you, then that is a sign that you are a child of God. This is the way God teaches us to rely on Him.
I remember hearing about a congregation where the pastor asked for some favorite verses of Scripture. One man got up and said his favorite verse was, “And it came to pass.” He sat down, and everyone looked puzzled. The pastor asked him how in the world that could be his favorite passage. He answered, “When I get in trouble, I turn to where it says, ‘It came to pass,’ and I know my troubles came to pass. They didn’t come to stay.” God will bring us through the storms. We will finally be rid of all our troubles. How wonderful that is.