But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Gary Shogren writes:
Many of the Thessalonians had come to Christ from paganism. Their gods were of superhuman power, but they were bound to the Fates just as were human beings. This meant that no Gentile, no matter how pious, could use prayer to substantially redirect future events; what would be would be. The most that could be hoped for was the regular sacrifices and visible religious duties would ameliorate some of the excesses of divine caprice, even while one’s Fate rolled on.
When the gospel arrived in Thessalonica, those Gentiles heard, perhaps for the first time, that there might exist a “living and true” God (1:9), one who freely “chose” (1:4) and who was in no way bound by Fate. This made stunning changes in the way in which the new believers saw the universe. Instead of fear and fatalism, believers could turn to the true God for help, even during hard circumstances, and ask for circumstances to change with regard to something as mundane as travel plans or something as profound as spiritual growth. “The God to whom we pray is no pitiless deity … but is the Father who can do all things, has control of every situation and is near me in every time of need.” The fact that Paul thanks God for the blessings that have happened also indicates that God is their source and that he is not simply a bystander to Fate.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 19
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.