DIVINELY ARRANGED SUFFERING
"Hereunto we are appointed" 1 Thess. 3:3
The "hereunto" refers to "afflictions." These Thessalonian Christians were in circumstances of actual suffering, resulting from persecution by their own countrymen. Through these trials they had stood fast. Paul was full of joy because this was so, but desired to encourage and strengthen them in their loyalty. This he did, first, by reminding them that the churches in Judea had suffered in the same way at the hands of their kinsmen. Then he made this declaration; "Hereunto we are appointed." Surveying the whole Christian movement, he saw SUFFERING EVERYWHERE AS THE RESULT OF LOYALTY TO THE FAITH; and he did not conceive of it merely as something to be endured. He saw GOD RULING OVER ALL, and knew that this pathway of pain was a DIVINELY-ARRANGED ONE. Therefore he realized that the sufferings of all Christian souls were not only WITHIN HIS KNOWLEDGE; THEY WERE IN HIS PLAN FOR HIS PEOPLE. All thought out in a divine plan before the foundation of the world (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). They were appointed to affliction. The word "appointed" here is the emphatic word. In affliction the saints are where God has put them, and they are there for purposes within THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL (Eph. 1:11). It is obvious that Paul was thinking in the realm of the Cross. As the sufferings of Christ were all by the DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Eph. 1:5), and that in order to the ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS REDEMPTIVE PURPOSE (Col. 1:22), so all the affliction of those who followed Christ were of the SAME FELLOWSHIP, and those enduring them were WORKERS TOGETHER WITH GOD (2 Cor. 6:1).