Affliction and Joy

Read: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit. (v. 6)

I was moved last winter by a request from a family without a permanent home. They wrote a letter requesting our devotional be sent to an address where they could retrieve it. The wife shared, “The devotional has been a blessing, and I know now that God is watching over us.” Their faith amid challenging circumstances encouraged my own journey. I wondered if my trust in God would grow or weaken in such a situation.

Paul opens his letter to the Thessalonians with memories of the mob violence that tested the first days of their faith (Acts 17:1-9). The small band was meeting in the house of a man named Jason when they were dragged into the street. Likely writing from Corinth a year later, Paul mentions their affliction and joy as evidence of God choosing them. Affliction and joy often mingle in the lives of the faithful. Ultimately, this is the path of Christ himself, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).

How can we experience the joy of the Holy Spirit when afflictions show up in our lives? You are doing it right now: spending time reading the Bible. The Word of God is not simply ink on paper or pixels on a screen: it’s “living and active” (4:12). In a different but related sense, the Word of God is the very person of Jesus: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, thank God for giving you his Word.

About the Author

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.