by Beth Diemert, LAS, Director of Affiliate Services
In the account of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, that is experiencing great suffering and persecution. Fellow citizens, who reject the church and believer’s faith, are bringing it down hard by seizing property, stopping their livelihood, mocking them, beating them, and even putting some to death. Paul is desperate to be in communication with them, to know how they are doing, because of his great love for them & wanting to care for them.
He writes his letter to drive home two main points. First, that suffering is part of the Christian life. In Chapter 3, writing in the Greek language, he uses the word trials, literally translated as “pressure.” He acknowledges they are under it – big time.
But what Paul doesn’t express is surprise. He instead conveys that this is to be expected. In fact, we see throughout the New Testament multiple statements, many from Jesus himself, that persecution and pressure will exist until his return (John 16:33, Matt 24:9). We can attest to this as we consider our current day culture!
Paul’s second point comes in Chapter 5. It’s one of those “therefore” statements. In other words… in light of all this reality and truth, here’s what you need to do. “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (5:11). He acknowledges that these believers are on course with this practice, and yet he takes the time to pen it in his letter, indicating a high value - to be there for each other and encourage one another.
God created us to need each other. It is not a weakness; it is our design. When Adam was in the garden and both saw and named every living creature, it made him highly aware of his “alone” factor. This is expressed in the text as “no suitable companion found” or from Adam’s perspective, “there’s no one like me” (Gen 2:18-20).
Keep in mind that Adam at this point is without sin, in perfect relationship with a perfect God, and in a perfect paradise! Yet he feels a need for relationship with a fellow human. God creates Eve and meets this need. All these years later, it hasn’t changed. We thrive when we live according to our design. It’s all about relationship!
So, as we take an inventory of the current state of the union we must exist in, and our own personal leadership calling, let me encourage you, like Paul, to unlock this foundational tenant of our faith – to find & give encouragement!
We have the incredible privilege of being in a network of thousands of pregnancy help organizations, filled with thousands of believers who share our passion. It should be our high priority within our community to encourage others at every opportunity and be humbled to receive encouragement back. This can be done in practices within our own organizations, in our networking circles, in our closed Facebook groups, wherever we have the opportunity to interact with each other. We need to do away with competition and criticism, and speak Life, model Life, exude Life, as a great means of encouragement! (This is why at Heartbeat we believe we are better together, and the greatest answer to abortion is another person!)
We also need to utilize the living Word of God to find encouragement for ourselves and to share spoken truth with those who need encouragement (Heb 4:12 NLT). The scriptures are full of truth about our Identity (who we are) and Inheritance (what we possess.) By way of encouragement, let me leave you with this thought from Graham Cooke on both, and the amazing truth they reveal.
Every piece of your identity carries with it its own favor, its own permission, its own provision, its own anointing.
When you step through that doorway of favor and permission, you are actually reaching for your true identity as a son or daughter of the Most High.
You are accepting that inheritance and standing on new ground.
Identity is who you are in God regardless of circumstances.
It doesn’t matter what is against you.
It only matters Who is for you.
He is for you! We CAN rise above our circumstances! Be encouraged!