How many times have you as a parent wanted to save your child from the hardships that
life throws his or her way? Yet you know that they need those lessons to grow up. All we can do sometimes is cheer them on from the sidelines. Paul is feeling the same thing for this fledgling church. He wants to be there to protect them, but God knows better. God knows that this young church needs trials in order to grow their faith and He also allowed Satan to stop Paul from charging in to their rescue.
Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians
17 But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God of all encouragement. I AM the author and finisher of your faith. I rejoice that you believe, because faith on your part pleases me. I long to see you face to face in glory when your faith shall be made sight, and your afflictions are changed into glory and joy. Because of which, I determine which lessons must come to your life in order to produce genuine faith in you. However, regardless of what comes your way in life, you need to trust me and I will work in you the faith required to see you through them all. Beware though; you have an enemy who is out to destroy your faith through those very same trials. He will do whatever he can to temp or discourage you so that you give up the fight of faith and succumb to live this life for yourself and for the pleasures of this world. It is imperative that you know that I am fighting for you. I have already won the ultimate battle on the cross for you, but that the daily battle must be won in your mind and in your thoughts; and consequently results will show by your faith exercised in your daily life. Now keep looking forward to the future glory to be revealed at my coming and keep encouraging one other with my joy and the hope held out to you in my gospel so you can walk before this wicked world without blame and in all holiness.
This life is so hard. Why? Suffice it to say that without the conflict, there can be no victory won. Without the testing there can be no character change. Without the darkness there can be no dawning bright light of glory. Without the battle there can be no champion’s laurel given. And if there is never a bleak outlook, there will never be the need for God’s cavalry to come to our rescue.
What unsettles our faith in trials? Is it not a lack of confidence in God’s goodness and wisdom and power to use the trial in our life for His specific purpose? The key to spiritual victory over defeat in our lives depends upon how we think while engaged in the particular trial. The more we understand God’s character, the harder the trial we can face without being unsettled. Our knowledge of the Word of God is what makes our thoughts like Gods regarding out position and practice of the Christian life in the midst of the trials we face.
Discipleship is teaching another person to the point where God’s thoughts replace their thoughts as to how to respond and act in this perverted world in a way that reflects God’s character in them. It is nerve wracking to watch loved ones; particularly our own children face hardships. But it is very rewarding to see them respond to the Holy Spirit in their lives to live and love God for themselves in spite of whatever the Tempter throws their way. I think that this is what Paul is feeling as he writes this passage and I believe it is what God feels for us as we face hardships too.
More to come,