How many times have you gone to help someone in need only to be blessed yourself beyond measure? I feel like this is a bit of what Timothy experienced when he visited Thessalonica as is referenced in our reading. Timothy went with the expectation he’d find trouble. “We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles.”
Instead, Timothy arrived to find their friends doing quite well. Such a report was a blessing indeed! “So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.” So in Paul’s own time of adversity, he was blessed by those he was seeking to serve.
We should all take our blessings where we can get them. Sometimes it will be in the most unexpected of places. It might be from something as simple as a smile from someone passing by (although these days smiles are covered by masks). Perhaps it’s the word of a young child or the funny line in a movie that makes you laugh until you cry. God works in all sorts of ways to bring us blessings and joy.
Paul and crew had warned the Thessalonians that they would encounter troubles. Being a believer in Christ during those days was dangerous. Gentiles would also likely have clashes with Jewish believers who didn’t feel they were worthy to receive blessings from “their” God. So many “troubles” in the early church.
We’re not immune to troubles even in our day. They just look different. How we handle the stress, the distractions, the “bad press”, etc. is what God is looking for. We can find our encouragement in the words of Scripture. We can find communion with the Father during our times of prayer and meditation. Are we listening?
How else can we stay strong these days without relying on the messages in Scripture and the peace of God’s presence? I’m not sure I know of a way. Paul’s prayer for them can be his prayer for us, as well. “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.”
Let’s pray … Lord, I call out to you to give me strength and keep me strong. There are so many distractions and temptations that surround me each day. I sometimes feel powerless. I long for the encouragement of other believers, and pray you’ll use me to be an encouragement in return. I need you, Lord. In Jesus’ name.