2 Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ . . .”
The Thessalonian Christians were going through great difficulties. Paul speaks of the tribulations and persecutions they were forced to endure. He also refers to sufferings, and their ultimate rest from these things will not happen until they are in the presence of the Lord. They are not alone in the these difficulties. Paul wrote to Timothy, explaining, “All who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus explained, in this world we would face tribulation, but He was greater than the world (John 16:33). It is the lot of all Christians to experience difficulties that try the genuineness of our faith. What strikes me, is not that they were facing trials, but that they received answers from the Lord. This entire letter is God speaking to the Thessalonians regarding the difficulties they are forced to endure.
“To the church of the Thessalonians…”
We are often faced with trials that test our faith and cause us to cry out for answers. One of the most common questions we ask is simply, “Why?” Why am I experiencing this difficulty. Why, if God is loving and powerful, am I forced to endure such struggles? There are certain questions we will not find an adequate answer for until heaven. There are times when the only way to hear from God is to follow the example of Habakkuk, and get alone with Him and His word (Habakkuk 2:1). There are also times when the answer comes in corporate worship. Since their experience of persecution and hardship was common to all, the answer was found in a message to the entire church. Imagine what a blessing it must have been, when they met that Sunday to listen to this letter for the first time, and they heard a message from God directed toward their circumstances.
I have found corporate worship to be like that. It is not uncommon for me to experience God speaking directly to the concerns of my life, as I sit in church worshipping and studying of the Word. As a pastor, I am often accused of “spying” on the people (as they poke fun at me) after a message that so directly addressed the things they are experiencing, or even the conversations they have been having about following Jesus. The message the Thessalonians heard may not have been exactly what they wanted (I am sure they wished it left out words like tribulation), but it was exactly what they needed to hear, and was tailored in heaven, specifically to enable them to persevere on earth. I think this is one of the major purposes of the church, and why it is so dangerous to neglect regular fellowship and the study of the Word.
Allow me to encourage you to make a commitment to be in regular attendance at a healthy, Bible-teaching fellowship. Answers await, as you gather to feast at the table of God’s Word.
1. Paul starts his letter to the Thessalonians talking about their faith and love for each other. What a beautiful thing to be known for! Do you think people know you for your faith and love? How could you improve your reputation on that subject?
2. Paul talks about the persecutions and trials that they are going through and how it counts them worthy of the kingdom of God (v. 5). Do the trials that we go through excite you for the rest we will get with Jesus in eternity?