If you were a believer in the first century you would be faced with many difficult experiences. We know that these men and women, who publicly followed Christ, were challenged and tested. In one of Paul’s last letters to the believers in Thessalonica, he gave them some advice and encouragement on how to handle difficult times.
Paul begins today’s text by giving thanks for the work God had already done in their lives. Their lives were a testament to God! Anything they had done or accomplished was evidence that God had brought them to this point (vv. 13–14). As a result, Paul encouraged them to “stand firm and hold to the teachings” they had received (v. 15). He knew that in difficult times it is easy to allow the Word of God to slip out of our lives. It is crucial that we hold firm so we can withstand the roller coasters life can bring.
Finally, Paul prays for the Thessalonians by first recalling what God had done for them (v. 16). The Lord’s encouragement and comfort in the past reassured them of the promise that He would be faithful and comfort them in the future. He does the same for us today. When we remember what God has done for us it gives us strength and encouragement for the future. The word Paul uses for encouragement could also be translated as comfort. Paul’s big idea is that during difficult times, the God of eternal comfort and encouragement comes alongside us and gives us exactly what we need. The result of God’s eternal encouragement is that we can glorify Him through “every good deed and word” (v. 17). This message is one that everyone in 2021 needs.
>> This New Year may be a difficult start for you. However, instead of dwelling on the negative, remember what God has done for you in the past. Let Him strengthen and encourage you to stand firm regardless of what comes your way.
Today, dear God, we recount the endless ways you have proven faithful throughout our lives. We take comfort in who you are, believing that you will continue to guide us, whatever lies ahead.