For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
If you’ve been around Christians, or you’re a Christian yourself, you know what I’m talking about when I say, “mountain top experience”. It’s that moment or moments you have with God that are absolutely breathtaking. I can actually pinpoint a mountain top experience in my life back when I was in Jr. High. I went to summer camp with my friends, and came back completely on fire for Christ. There was a particular song that brought me to my knees. The lyrics went like this… “And as You catch my tears, with Your nail scarred hands, I’m overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with You.” (Overwhelmed by Joel Weldon). It was a moment that I will never forget. I was realizing the depth of my sin and the price that was paid on that cross. It was stingingly beautiful.
Somewhere along the way, my fire began to burn out and the world began to take it’s toll. I had longed for that mountain top experience again, but it wasn’t coming back. When I was reading this passage, I was reminded of that fire I once had. The Thessalonians were new believers that were making a huge impact on the people around them. They had experienced the mountain top.
But then, there was persecution. The same type of persecution Paul was familiar with and was still fighting. You know how he encouraged them? He said, “In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews. For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too.” (v 14-15, NLT)
He’s basically saying to them, “Jesus suffered too!”. This is what is amazing about the Christian faith. We have Someone that lives in us, who has suffered the same temptations and persecution (plus more than we can imagine) yet was still without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus is able to empathize with us and draw near to us during these times because He can genuinely feel our pain. How amazing is that?!
So, when we come down off that mountain top, and Satan begins his relentless attacks, let’s not long for that experience to happen again. Instead, let us praise God for the pain and look forward to what He has set before us.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3-5)