Today’s reading begins by acknowledging both the reality of suffering and the potential problem such suffering poses to faith. When life gets hard, it gets easy to feel like God has left us or our faith has failed us.
Lots of people start out well in their Christian life. But somewhere along the line they lose their focus, drive, inspiration… Paul is afraid that this has happened to the Thessalonians, and that therefore his labor there will have been “in vain”.
This raises a couple questions for me. Who are we laboring for? That is, who are the people in our lives for whom we are devoting time and energy to introduce them to our Lord Jesus Christ, and then to help them grow in their relationship with him? It could be a Sunday school class, for instance, or maybe a youth group. It could be people we’ve studied the Bible with, or that we’ve served on a mission trip or service project.
If we can’t think of specific people we are laboring for, I suggest we need to start there. We are not living the Gospel if our life does not include such service and the relationships that grow out of it.
My second question is that if we can clearly think of people for whom we labor, how are we following up on them? Are we checking in with them to see how they are doing? When trouble comes for them, as it surely will, how are we encouraging them and helping them through it?
Faith is a long term commitment, even in—especially in—the face of adversity. May we offer one another the love and support we need to not simply continue in the faith, but to grow ever stronger in it.