Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints (Psalms 116:15).
Witnessing obedience in affliction is something worthy of taking a quiet moment to ponder. There is sweetness about worship in the midst of suffering. There is beauty in the patience endurance of the saints.
In 2 Thessalonians 1, we see a beautiful picture of worship. The Thessalonian Christians were suffering persecutions and afflictions yet they were steadfast in their faith (2 Thes 1:4). Life was not easy for them yet they were known their growing faith and love for one another.
Paul taught the Thessalonians of the awesome day when Christ will return. The Lord is a righteous and mighty Judge. When He returns with His mighty angels, the Lord Jesus will execute justice to repay those who persecute the disobedient unbelievers with destruction, an eternity away from God’s presence and glory (2 Thes 1:5-10).
When Christ returns not only will justice be meted out, but all the universe will witness a glorious uniting of God and His people. On that day the Lord will be glorified in His saints. We will all be caught up together in the air. The dead in Christ will rise first and then all who are still alive on earth will be raptured and caught up in the air. Then we will always be with the Lord (1 Thes 4:16-17). Paul says that God will be “marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed” (2 Thes 1:10). We will marvel at the Lord as we think of all the countless generations of people who have believed in the Lord and were transformed because the gospel that was preached through people’s testimony about Him. The beauty is that the Lord Jesus is glorified in His people and His people are glorified in Him. The Lord’s light shines on us and through us.
But the Lord will not be glorified in us, if we do not continue to obey Him, if we give up when life gets hard. If we bail out when serving God becomes difficult, then we cut off the glory the Lord would have otherwise received from us. If we stop doing the good work of faith He has called us do, then there will be people who won’t believe in Jesus because of our testimony. There will be people who aren’t touched by God because we failed to use the gifts and talents God provided for us. There will be less marveling of the Lord Jesus on that day because people who should be with us in the air will be absent.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 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. (2 Thes 1:11-12)
The joy that we will have on that day when Christ returns will not be a temporary happiness. It will be deep and wise. It will be a joy that remembers the previous suffering and that is aware of those who are now under the judgment of God eternally kept away from the presence of the Lord. It will be a joy that is profound and glorious. We will marvel at the Lord and see all the countless millions of believers transformed and worshipping God.
It is for this joy set before us that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy prayed for the Thessalonian brothers and sisters, that God would make them worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power.
Lord, open my eyes to see how wonderful and glorious it will be on that day when You return. Help me to see ahead to that joy! And give me Your grace to keep going when times get tough. Let me have favor to accomplish every good work that You have prompted me to do by faith. Without Your power, I can do nothing. Lord, make me worthy of Your calling. Help me, Lord, because without You I am so weak. But I know that in Christ I can do all things! I long to see more and more marvel at You, Lord Jesus Christ!
Images used by permission from artakiane.com.