WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – From the throne room of heaven, the Lord Jesus monitors the path He has laid out for you – a path that will lead you to become the person He made you to be and to accomplish the works He designed you to do. He also sees all the roadblocks that Satan and others construct across your route. You may be stuck behind one now, unsure of whether to plow through, climb over, go around, or give up.
Paul experienced the same frustrations in his ministry to the Thessalonians. First, the unbelieving Jews opposed his gospel with such violence that the church sent him away in the dead of night to protect his life. Then, as he tried over and over during the next months to return, the devil blocked his way. Here’s how he explained it:
About the Jewish opposition – “They displease God and are hostile to everyone by keeping us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved” (1 Thess. 2:15-16).
About his attempts to go back – “After we were forced to leave you for a short time (in person, not in heart), we greatly desired and made every effort to return and see you face to face. So we wanted to come to you – even I, Paul, time and again – but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:17-18).
The apostle doesn’t explain how Satan hindered him; he just states the fact. He tried to return “time and again,” but he just couldn’t make it happen. So, he did the next best thing: he wrote them this letter.
Did I ever mention that Satan is a cosmic loser? His “success” in delaying Paul’s ministry to a few hundred Christians resulted in the writing of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which have built up hundreds of millions of Christians throughout the world for 2,000 years. Poor old Satan. He just can’t win for losin’.
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – When I’m stumped about how to get around an apparent obstacle in God’s plan for me, I’m greatly encouraged by looking into the throne room of heaven. In my frustration and fear, I somehow expect Jesus to be pacing the floor, wringing His hands, scratching His head, and asking the angels, “What on earth can we do for Jeff?!” But that’s not at all what I see. I see Him not even standing, but “seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). That’s when I calm down and breathe deeply and say, “My Lord has got this.”
In that assurance, we can do some of the things Paul did:
We can refuse to be intimidated: “On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition.” (1 Thess. 2:2).
When we must retreat temporarily, we can maintain our “great desire” to fulfill God’s call and we can make “every effort to return” (1 Thess. 2:17).
And, while we wait for that opportunity, we can do the next best thing God puts into our hearts. Who knows, that may have been His ultimate plan from the beginning.