The prayers of Paul
This is a series on the prayers of St Paul found in the letters attributed to him in the order he is believed to have written them. Letters to the same place or person will be treated together with the first letter to that destination.
I am writing this at a point of turmoil in British politics. The pound has dropped in value on the money markets against the US dollar and the IMF has said that the economic measures that led to that fall, ” will likely increase inequality.” (source CNBC). The Bank of England issued a statement on 28th September 2022 speaking of dysfunction in the money markets. We live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse says.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ESVUK
Stand firm and hold on tight
The Thessalonian church back in Paul’s time was also living in interesting times. One of the most immediate effects of being persecuted is poverty. How can you survive when you cannot be employed because of your beliefs?
A few years ago my wife Linda and I had a long weekend in Belgium. The ferry back from Zeebrugge to Hull was certainly interesting in that we had no idea which way the ship was going to lurch next. That was for just one night. The calm of the Humber estuary was very welcome. We had to stand firm, or sit on something stable, and hold on.
Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians in turbulent times is to stand firm and to hold on. Hold on to the traditions you have been taught and especially to the mutual support in love between Christians.
Celebrate the greatness of God!
Paul was a genius in keeping things short, when he was not going off on a tangent and only returning to his theme chapters later. In verses 13 and 14 he made a full summary of God’s grace. God has chosen us, the Thessalonians were God’s trailblazing project of his work of salvation, they were called through the gospel, made holy by the Holy Spirit, set apart for God and have come to a faith which is more than a religious faith but is anchored in truth. We, as Christians are also chosen, called, made holy, set apart and have come to a faith anchored in truth. Is it any wonder that Paul follows that with a song of praise that is not just for those early Christians in Thessalonica, but also for us in the twenty-first century. We have come to the same glory that Jesus Christ himself had in his resurrection.
We have already been given eternal comfort, Paul’s prayer for us is that it becomes a reality for us. Lord Jesus, make it so. We also have things to do. Who knows what that might be, possibly working alongside those who lose out if this political mess is more than a blip.
God knows what is going on. God saw the persecution the Thessalonians were going through and God also sees all the political messes in the twenty-first century. If Paul could rejoice in the faith of a persecuted church, we too can rejoice because our destiny is not in the hands of politicians. We do not have to despair, God is in control.