‘And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:’ — 1 Thessalonians 1:6
Affliction and joy seem to be opposites, but the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit makes it possible to be joyful even in difficulty. The Thessalonians heard the gospel and were clearly saved. They received the word of God, but it wasn’t easy for them. There was ‘much affliction’ as they faced opposition from the culture, from their families, and from unbelievers.
Yet, in the midst of their affliction, they were able to be joyful through the Holy Ghost. This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He was given by the Father and the Son to be a comfort to us, to encourage us and to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc.
Acts 9:31 talks about ‘the comfort of the Holy Ghost’ Acts 13:52 says, ‘the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.’ Romans 5:3-5 says we can glory in tribulation because tribulation produces patience, experience, and hope through the love of Holy Ghost in our hearts.
It seems that the more we face difficulty, the more the Holy Spirit works in us to point us to what is true, what is eternal, what is of God. He reminds us why we have much to rejoice about. He puts our eyes on those things that produce great joy. The more the facade of worldly happiness crumbles, the more our hearts can be filled with real joy.
What a blessing to have the Holy Spirit! What a blessing to have the joy in our hearts that He produces! What an important reminder that we can be joyful even in much affliction!