A Week in 2 Thessalonians: Day 5 – Confidence
It’s taken me until this small, relatively unknown corner of the Bible to admit that I need help. We’ve been on quite a journey to this point, haven’t we, but here I am admitting that I am out of my depth. So I’ve turned to Tom Wright for help and I will be sharing my thoughts on his thoughts on 2 Thessalonians in his ‘Paul for Everyone’ series. Because yes, even the most obscure bits of the Bible and the hardest to understand hold something for everyone.
Tom Wright reminds us that these letters to the Thessalonians are some of the ‘earliest documents we possess from the beginning of the church’s existence’ – how exciting is that? These letters are bursting with enthusiasm and excitement for this new thing that is happening among them, but also with questions and confusion and disagreement. This is a completely new way of life, challenging everything these people have ever believed before.
So let’s get stuck in!
The Passage: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Finally, our friends, pray for us that the Lord’s message may continue to spread rapidly and be received with honour, just as it was among you. Pray also that God will rescue us from wicked and evil people; for not everyone believes the message.
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the Evil One. And the Lord gives us confidence in you, and we are sure that you are doing and will continue to do what we tell you.
May the Lord lead you into a greater understanding of God’s love and the endurance that is given by Christ.
Pray – Pray for us, Paul asks. It’s OK to ask others to pray for us. He’s asking prayer for things that are totally outside his control – how the message is received and responded to. He can play his part by taking the good news of Jesus wherever he is sent by God and preaching it clearly and boldly, but he cannot control the response. That’s up to God. Only God can transform hearts. Only God can protect Paul from those intent on silencing his message. It might have seemed odd to these first inexperienced believers that the great preacher Paul was asking them to pray for him. But the truth is that everyone needs prayer, whoever they are, and all prayers are significant before God. There’s a multitude of people we may never know and hear of who pray faithfully for others and their contribution to God’s kingdom is just as important as the person with the microphone in their hand.
Paul’s work is a lonely work at times – scary and frustrating – but to know that this company of believers are praying for him brings comfort and strength and encouragement. Whatever we do for God and with God will be better with prayer. The response to our endeavours is never in our hands, but God’s. In whatever we do, our aim is to join Paul in bringing glory to God. All that we do should point to Him.
Faithful – And we pray because God is faithful. He has promised to listen and to respond and be with us always. And He keeps His word.
He will strengthen you and keep you safe from the Evil One.
He will. No question. No doubt about it.
Confidence – That’s how we can have confidence as we go about God’s work in the world. It’s not a confidence in our own strength and ability, but God’s. It is not dependent on our mood or health or circumstances, because God is always at work in us to reveal His glory. We can have confidence in each other that the God who has started a good work will complete it.
Life does not function without confidence. Take confidence away and we cannot face the day; we cannot make choices about what to wear or what to eat; we cannot enter into conversation. We question everything about ourselves and what we are doing. I remember a time where I asked a friend to pray for me for exactly this kind of confidence – the confidence to carry on. I’d reached a point where I wasn’t sure that I could. But God is faithful and I’m still here. That time in my life always serves as a reminder never to have confidence in my own strength and abilities because they can always change, but that confidence in the God who is constant and never changing can be a rock to cling to whatever the weather.
For me, that’s the the endurance that is given by Christ.
May the Lord lead us all into a greater understanding of God’s love and the endurance that is given by Christ.