Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 13 2013 - 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 – Glorifying the name of our Lord Jesus

The Christians in Thessalonica were suffering for their faith but had not turned back from following Jesus. On the contrary their faith was growing stronger and they were supporting one another in a spirit of love (2 Thessalonians 1:3). They had an endurance – sticking power – that sprang from the hope they had in Christ. Paul not only gives thanks for these remarkable Christians, he also boasts about their faith and perseverance to other churches with which he is in contact.

Nevertheless, Paul assures these troubled Christians, “we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11-12).

How does our faith fare in times of trial? We in the West do not face trials like those experienced by the Christians in Thessalonica, yet all too often we complain and ask why God does not get us out of the difficulties we are facing. Surely, if he cared about us he would step in and do something?

Faith falters in time of trial when it has become self-centred, preoccupied with our own present experience rather than focussed upon Christ and the promise of his coming, and intent upon bringing blessing to others. We need a larger perspective. God has shown us the magnitude of his love for us in that he gave his Son for us. He has saved us and will save us in the day of Christ's appearing. In the meantime we may face all manner of trials, but our faith need not falter when it is fixed upon a faithful God and an unchanging Saviour.

That does not mean that Christians must face trials with serene indifference or unconcern. Many of the psalms express both complaint to God in time of trial but also confident trust in him; the psalmist looks to God as the only one who can help in time of trial. Here, for instance, is Psalm 142:

I cry aloud to the Lord;
  I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
  before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
  it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
  people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
  no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
  no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
  I say, ‘You are my refuge,
  my portion in the land of the living.’

Listen to my cry,
  for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
  for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
  that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
  because of your goodness to me.

There are many places in the world today where Christians do face serious trials, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa – in Syria and in Egypt. We need to pray for such Christians as Paul prayed for the Christians in Thessalonica. We need to cry out to God for them as the psalmist cried out in time of trouble.

Father God, we pray for those facing persecution and the threat of death simply because they are followers of the Lord Jesus. Look upon them in mercy, comfort them by your Spirit and save them by your power. Keep them strong in faith that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in them. Give wisdom to those seeking to bring peace to places of conflict. Help us, along with your people everywhere, to grow in faith and love and to minister your love to a hurting world.

Peter Misselbrook