Summary: 8th in the series, "Left Behind: 1 & 2 Thessalonians."

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Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law."

Some time later the same man was surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, the thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found himself in the city jail (Oops: The Book of Blunders, 1980).

Justice. A story like that makes you feel good. On the other hand stories of injustice make us angry. Today’s passage is about the coming day of justice. But what I want to key in to here is this interesting juxtaposition painful circumstances and their meaning in the lives of individuals.

The point that I think is illustrated here is that not all pain is created equal but all pain is purposefull.

What is God’s purpose for pain?

That depends on who it’s happening to. The first purpose is for:

Perseverence and Purification

3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

5All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

To place this in perspective, we needto understand that Paul was writing to people who understood what persecution really was. At the Nicene Council, an important church meeting in 325 A.D., of the 318 delegates attending, fewer than 12 had not lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith Vance Havner.

Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They’re the only ones who can take it."

What is the purpose of their suffering? James tells us that it develops perseverance which completes us.

A. Parnell Bailey visited an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. The season was unusually dry and some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took Bailey to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. "These trees could go without rain for another 2 weeks," he said. "You see, when they were young, I frequently kept water from them. This hardship caused them to send their roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. Now mine are the deepest-rooted trees in the area. While others are being scorched by the sun, these are finding moisture at a greater depth." Our Daily Bread.

As we develop perseverance we are being purified, fit out for God’s kingdom. Learning that indeed a quiet answer turns away wrath. Learning that in a desert land the Lord himself satisfies. Now becoming fit for God’s kingdom should never be confused with becoming worthy of it.

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