“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
Paul had no doubt that God was not a disinterested spectator in the affairs of the world, of His Church and of His people individually. His learning and his experience taught him otherwise. His encounter with the living Jesus, his experience of the Holy Spirit and the way God opened his eyes to the Scriptures convinced him of God’s presence, purpose and commitment. He lived his life accordingly.
Paul’s prayer request here is an acknowledgement of the personal presence and involvement of God. He does not prayer that messengers will be sent to us but that God Himself will reach into our lives to encourage and strengthen us. His own experience would have been of the truth of such blessing by God and of its value and importance.
Christian life and ministry can, at times, be very lonely and insecure. We may wonder where God is and if what we are about has any significance or value in the greater scale of things. We may even become confused by what appears to be contradictory teaching by different churches, by different ministers within the same denomination, and even by the ridicule levelled at Christianity by others.
We need to remember that Jesus gave His life, and His ongoing commitment, to the people who would believe in Him and continue His work and ministry. Every aspect of it, whether thought, word or deed is of importance and, if of God, contributes towards the building and extension of His Kingdom. Each one of us does indeed have a Circle of Influence, far wider in today’s world than we would at first imagine.
If God desires something to happen, whether on an international or personal front, then He will support and empower it. If God wishes you or me to lead a particular type of life – a holy life – then He will support, empower and encourage it. He will also stand with us when the enemy attacks us and attempts to scare us into inactivity or lead us astray.
We may ask and receive – and step out in that confidence.
Remind yourself of Jesus promise to be with you always, and act accordingly.
Lord Jesus please help me to remember that I am not alone, but that You are with me always. Please help me to think, speak and act in a way that honours You – and strengthen and encourage me every step of the Way. Amen