For Who is our Hope…?
As one reads Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, his love, care, and concern for this group of Christians was quite apparent. “…constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father. (1 Thessalonians 1:3)” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy shared the greatest worldly connection possible with the Thessalonians: faith, love and hope in Jesus.
When Paul was abruptly taken away from them due to great opposition, he was very concerned for their physical and spiritual well-being. More than once, he unsuccessfully tried to return, but he never forgot them. Listen to his loving words “we were all the more eager with great desire to see your face (1 Thessalonians 2:18)”.
He continues in verses 19-20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” Try to imagine your emotions and feelings as you are gathered together in Thessalonica reading these words from the Apostle Paul. Humbled, loved, motivated, strengthened, encouraged.
But you have to wonder how could they be Paul’s hope? Paul was already fighting the good fight. Paul had and was faithfully presenting the gospel to them. His personal eternal hope did not depend on their acceptance or rejection of his revelation of God’s word. I think this gives us great insight into Paul’s character. His love for souls motivated him for greater service. The Thessalonian faith fed Paul’s desire for greater work.
Paul is simply reflecting God’s hope and desire, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Pet 3:9) As a result, Paul’s hope (desire, expectation) was that together they would stand in the presence of the savior, glorying in His return.
What about today? Who is my hope? You, Tomlinson Run church of Christ, are my hope. I, too, hope to stand before Jesus at His coming with each of you. Your love and service motivate and drive me to greater service and work in the kingdom. Bear with me as I list a few examples:
*You are my hope when young, innocent children say amen at the end of a prayer. Why? Because I know they have godly parents praying with them at home.
*You are my hope when those same children bust out of Bible class wanting to share what they learned. Why? Because I know they have godly Bible class teachers establishing a biblical foundation to build upon in the future.
*You are my hope when I am sitting in an empty pew on a cold January Sunday evening during Covid and a group of young people ask to sit with me, so I was not alone. Why? Because they have a Christ like spirit to be kind to others.
*You are my hope when I teach or sit through Bible classes and hear scripture being explained and applied. Why? Because I can see and hear your sincerity and love of God’s word.
*You are my hope when I see the older among us consistently and loyally at the assembly despite serious physical limitations with aches and pains. Why? Because you have aligned your stone in God’s spiritual house with the Chief cornerstone. Your stone has become the place where the rest of us can place our stone firmly on the foundation of Christ. Why? Because even though the physical is being destroyed day by day, your inner spiritual self is being renewed.
*You are also my hope when I hear your words of wisdom (the words of the elderly) and encouragement given to the rest of us. Why? Because we need your wisdom and encouragement.
*You are my hope when I see individuals committed to Christ even if their immediate family is not. Why? Because you set the example of Christ being first in your life. Thank you. -You are my hope when so many of you good, godly women set an example for my daughter. Why? Because I want her to be exactly that. You are noticed and appreciated.
*You are my hope when I see my brothers who have families and secular jobs faithfully and sacrificially preach the Word week after week. You are my hope when your families sacrifice as well when you prepare. Why? Because your dedication does not go unnoticed. Continue to feed the flock.
*You are my hope when I see you surround the hurting with acts of kindness of love (physical, emotional, and spiritual). Why? Because a cup of cold water in His name given. Because you encourage the fainthearted and help the weak.
*You are my hope when you do all the things you do without ever being noticed. Why? Because you give God the glory.
*You are my hope as over the years I have watched faithful Christians pass from this life with confidence knowing heaven awaits. Why? Because each of us must make that journey too. -You are my hope when you continue to abound more and more. Why? Because that is what God wants us to do.
Who is my hope?
Is it not even you!
Thank you for being my hope!
I eagerly desire to see your face as often as possible.