The believers in Thessalonica were poor, oppressed, and persecuted. They were slandered and hated by their neighbors. And still their faith in God continued to grow. And when Paul learned of the growing faith of these beleaguered believers, he felt compelled to give thanks to God.

Many Christians today would have a hard time identifying with the faith of the Thessalonians. When we experience even a little bit of hardship, our faith comes crashing to earth. “I’m late for my hair appointment, and I can’t find my car keys! Lord, why me?” The believers in Thessalonica saw their livelihoods destroyed, their children attacked and beaten, and their homes vandalized because of their witness for Christ. They faced threats of arrest, imprisonment, and death. They were lied about, and their reputations were destroyed. Through it all, their faith grew, and their love for one another intensified.

Instead of saying, “Why me?” they said, “Why not me? Why should I be treated any better than my Christian neighbors who are suffering?” Instead of saying, “Why are You doing this to me, Lord?” they said, “Thank You, Lord, for walking through this time of trial with me.”

As you read these words, Christians around the world are undergoing incredible suffering for the sake of Christ. In many Muslim-dominated countries, where terrorism is a daily fact of life, Christians are being tortured and beheaded, and their children are murdered before their eyes. The Lord loves those martyred believers as much as He loves you and me.

The day may come when we will have to undergo persecution. Will our faith grow as the faith of the Thessalonians grew? Will our love for one another intensify like the love of the Thessalonians? The time to start increasing our faith and deepening our Christlike character is now. We need to prepare ourselves now for the testing to come.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the persevering faith of the Thessalonians. May their example embolden and inspire me to pursue deeper faith as I take on the humble attitude of Christ. Prepare me by Your Spirit for the testing to come. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

*Excerpt adapted from Fearless Living in Troubled Times by Michael Youssef © 2017. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon series Until Christ Returns: Living Confidently in Turbulent Times: LISTEN NOW | WATCH NOW


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About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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