Updated: Jan 29, 2021
It was our last morning at the beach. I rose early and made my way down the boardwalk to the shore line. The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon. For a while I was the only one there, standing silently as the waves gently kissed my feet. The ocean was unusually calm that morning. I remember thinking it looked like a mirror reflecting the sky.
More than anything else the ocean brings a sense of peace to me. I'm sure the reason for this is the fact that the beach is the place I feel closet to my Lord. At the ocean I'm more relaxed. I have time to simply sit, watch, listen. And though physically I am surrounded by people, in my spirit it's just me and Jesus communing in His beautiful creation.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:2 Paul begins his letter with the traditional Jewish greeting of grace and peace. He says this grace and peace come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we receive God's grace we gain His peace.
Peace that keeps us calm in all circumstances.
Peace that passes all human comprehension.
Peace that comes from walking intimately with our Lord.
Peace of heart, soul, and mind.
And like that glassy sea reflecting the sky, our lives reflect the glory of our God.
The Amplified Version gives the definition for peace: inner calm and spiritual well-being Paul knew with God's peace the Thessalonians could continue to endure the persecution they were suffering.
Like many of his letters, he begins with a prayer for the recipients. In 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 Paul had prayed for the love of the Thessalonian believers to increase and their hearts to be strengthened. Now in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul is thanking God because He has answered this original prayer. Though the believers were still enduring persecution, they didn't give up and walk away from the faith; instead their faith grew stronger. They didn't turn inward and become selfish, their love for others grew.
Many times suffering causes us to become self-centered, to think only of ourselves and our problems. Some people allow their suffering to kill their faith. They ask questions like: "If God loves me why is He allowing this to happen?" Still others panic when suffering comes. They fret and worry instead of trusting God.
Our suffering shouldn't surprise us. Our suffering shouldn't cause our faith to waver. Rather our suffering should produce well-established faith in us. Our suffering shouldn't make us selfish but more sensitive to the suffering of others. Paul told the Corinthians:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
In our suffering God is with us. His presence brings us peace. Our faith becomes well-established as we endure and see the ways God delivers us.
1 Peter 4:12 says:
"Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal that has come to test you, as though something strange were happening to you."
Jesus told us we would have troubles and tribulations in this world. He said:
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Did you catch that word "peace" in there? With Jesus we can have peace no matter what we are facing. When we allow God's peace to settle our hearts in our suffering our focus turns outward. Colossians 3:15 says:
"Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who daily walks with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members of one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always]." AMP
Gathered manna for 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 is:
When Christ's peace is the controlling factor in our heart, panic has no control in our life.
How do you react to suffering? Does your faith waver or become well-established? Do you become selfish or sensitive to others suffering? Do you panic or trust God?
Like a mountain stream flowing toward the sea; Christ's love should be flowing from us no matter what circumstances we are facing. Some rivers begin as a small trickle of water high upon a mountain. Through the years that water flowed down, making its way over rocks and through earth; it had to fight to make the channels that formed a stream. Yet the water flows into a river, it doesn't become stagnant. Stagnant water stinks. Stagnant water grows algae. Stagnant water can't be used.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:4 Paul tells the believers of Thessalonica that he boasts about their faith to the other churches. He boast because their suffering has produced well-established faith in them. The Thessalonian believers have allowed God to use their sufferings to sanctify them making them worthy of His kingdom. Paul boasts because their suffering has caused them to become flowing water rather than stagnant. In their suffering they allowed the Living Water to flow through them to others.
We are not meant to be stagnant water but called to be living water for others.
Gathered manna for 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 is:
Our sufferings are meant for our sanctification; to make us like the Living Water.
In what ways is your faith boast worthy? How have your sufferings made you more Christlike? How are you being living water?