Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.
17 As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and joy!
I could see Paul writing this letter ( or email or FaceTime) right now amidst this pandemic. As we meet with our families and our church communities, we pretty much say the same thing: we know the hardships you are going through because we are going through them in the place where we live. And even with all this hardship, we are still being imitators of God’s churches of old. We may be suffering in a different way. Nevertheless, we are suffering. We feel your pain.
And isn’t that what we are doing now. I have many opportunities to parts of church and secular groups who are coming together virtually to pray for one another and to share with each other, whether sharing is the joy of a newborn in the family to the concerns of another person suffering with COVID-19. And this is what Paul says about those things visible and invisible who are blocking our ability to be in community with one another: “…they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last.” It sounds a lot like an Easter message “Death, where is your sting?”
I hope we will not be weary enough of this pandemic, that we no longer have the strength to say to one another like Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Yes, you are our glory and joy!” May we always remember to say to others in which we are in contact: “It is a joy to be with you no matter what—whether we are masked or 6 feet apart or looking through a screen or anything else. It is a joy to be with you.
God, we are weary. It is hard for things not to be as they used to be. We miss events. We miss people. We miss interactions with others. Yet, we know you are with us giving us strength, holding us up when we cannot do it ourselves. May we continue to feel your support and love. Amen.
Go with God!