We Are Destined for This
by Jacob Hudgins
“For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know”(1 Thess 3:3-4).
Christians in the first century lived with the reality and full expectation of suffering for their faith. Paul was with the Thessalonians only “for a short time”(1 Thess 2:17), yet it was part of the essentials he taught them. The same was true in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, where his parting message was “to continue in the faith” because “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”(Acts 14:22).
In fact, it is notable that our forefathers in the faith saw their hardships as a point of spiritual growth. Suffering connected them to Christ. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed”(1 Pet 4:12-13). Paul encouraged the Philippians that “it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake”(Phil 1:29). When the apostles were beaten, they left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name”(Acts 5:41).
These verses are a stark reminder for modern Americans. They are a check for times when we begin to think our status as Americans gains us freedom from critique, exclusion, and ridicule. I often subconsciously operate on the assumption that if I am doing my best to live for the Lord, things will work out (financially, in relationships, in health). The New Testament stops such thoughts dead in their tracks.
But when we do endure difficulty in faith, it is possible for us to also connect in a deeper way with the Lord who endured so much for us. Perhaps that is persecution, or perhaps it is simply the frustrations of the physical (2 Cor 12:7ff), but we can endure in faith that something superior is coming for us. We can acknowledge our tremendous weakness and helplessness, and so find Christ’s strength.
Never forget that “we are destined for this”—and never forget that after this, we are destined for something far greater!