1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 – Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
It’s astounding to me how fragile our faith can be. Sometimes circumstances, trials, and difficulties can cause a shaking in the foundations of our faith and trust in the Lord. Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica are incredibly revealing. Paul was separated from the church but was deeply concerned that the state of their faith might have been in jeopardy. To ensure that he could stave off any attack of the enemy, he sent Timothy to strengthen and encourage them. What strikes me in this passage is the source of the shaking. Paul and his ministry team experienced great persecution and difficulty as they carried the gospel through the known world (see 2 Corinthians 11:26).
Upon hearing of Paul’s afflictions, it seems as though the church was experiencing a shaking of their faith. Perhaps they were asking questions like, “How could a loving God allow his servants to suffer so greatly?” Or, “If those terrible things are happening to Paul, would God allow them to happen to us?” These frightening and sobering questions were causing some to doubt the goodness, love, and even the reality of God. Paul’s response does not feed their doubt or give credibility to their insecurities. Instead, he addresses their questions and concerns with courage and truth.