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Trying times are – well, trying. They’re no fun. Whether we’re enduring something like the multitude of present stresses and strains the Covid-19 crisis has brought upon us; tension in personal a relationship; financial loss or pressure; employment or the lack thereof; betrayal by friends or loved ones; uncertainty regarding the future; personal health or that of a loved one – name it. And for some, like those in today’s section in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 there may be persecution for the faith. Or for those in 2 Chronicles 35-Ezra 1 – the prospect of picking up after 70 years of exile to return home to a ravaged Judah to try and rebuild life. Or Jesus in Luke 9:10-20 being understood, and yet not understood by His closest friends. Trying times are trying. What then, is our hope in it all? More today on Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson.
Thessalonica was an ancient and important coastal city on the Mediterranean. Paul had established a Church there. But it was an area deeply steeped in Roman Emperor worship. Persecution of Christians ran high. But of course, like you and me, each had their own issues to deal with as well. The word “afflictions” in vs. 4 being pretty general. They were both persecuted (a specific affliction) and they had their other “stuff” too. Making ends meet. Being marginalized by society. Sickness and disease. Relationships. Church squabbles. Conflicting personalities. Differing opinions. They were just people – like you and me living in their world like we live in ours. And sometimes – that means life hurts. A lot.
So Paul makes mention of how they are remaining steadfast in the faith in the midst of it all. And then, in vs. 7, he says something which no doubt – at least at first – caused everyone’s ear to prick up. That God intended to grant them relief! Yay Paul! Tell us! Relief. It’s what we need! How is it coming? And more WHEN is it coming? Because we hurt.
Then Paul says what might have been a disappointment to them at first. But a necessary re-calibration in their thinking. It has to to with the timing of this relief. So he writes: “God indeed considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you” – yes! Yes! Get to it Paul – yes! God’ll get’em. Good news for sure. “And” he continues, “to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us” – YES! YES! Bring it home Paul – “WHEN”, yeah, yeah, when, WHEN? “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”
What? Wait! But, but, we want relief NOW! Not then – whenever “then” is. You can well imagine their response can’t you? I can. I think of how it strikes me to read that and then apply it to my own situation right now. But how vitally important this is to hear, know, grasp and cling to for the Believer.
The truth is loved one – and please hear me, you and I may not get the relief we are looking for from all that ails us in this present time. Scripture is constantly pointing us forward. To wean us away from just wanting a better or more comfortable now – to the resurrection. To remind us that Jesus didn’t die to make life simple, happy or pleasant in this present fallen and condemned world. To prepare our minds for acting rightly here, and being sober-minded – not driven to distraction by present trials – by setting our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
Yes, He will give the grace to sustain us until then. We will know many a wonderful ministration. But our hope? Our hope rests fully in His return. If not, we will not be sober-minded in a world that seeks to make us drunk with worry, care, concern and fear.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back on Monday.