1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3- “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Where is your hope?
Have you ever found yourself struggling to continue on for the Lord? Maybe you’ve had bouts of depression because of your sin, or maybe you’ve questioned what you once thought was God’s will for you, or maybe you are growing weary in well doing. Has this ever been you?
Paul is thanking and encouraging the Church at Thessalonica for evidencing faith, love, and hope in this introduction to them. I want to focus our attention on hope. It is interesting that Paul commends the church for evidencing this essential mark as the church at Thessalonica were struggling with things concerning the end times. But nevertheless Paul remarks on these three virtues, of which hope will be our focus.
It is interesting to note that Paul links the practical outworking of steadfastness to the virtue of hope. In other words Paul is saying that the ‘steadfastness’ that they are displaying is a direct result or consequence of their hope. What is hope then? Well, we often think of hope as like we were wishing for something to happen. Rather, this would not fit the original meaning used in this verse. According Strong’s (1680) the word means to have a confident expectation in.
A friend (Jason) illustrated the different meanings like this: Imagine being stranded on an island and there was no one else around, I could say “I hope a ship will come and save me” (First meaning), or I could say “The ship that comes is my only hope”(Second meaning). Do you see the difference? One wanders if a ship will come; the other says that the ship that does come will be my only hope!
Our confident expectation should rest in the Word of God as it clearly states that Christ will come again.
John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Acts 1:11 “… Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw him go into heaven”
1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God…
Why are these promises worth hoping in?
It’s by hoping in these facts that we will purify and encourage each other by when the hard times come.
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes (Confident expectation) in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Brothers and sisters, have you found your faith waning? Have you felt weary in well doing? Have you felt like quitting? Well where is your hope? You must rest in the Lord and His promises. Christ’s return is the definitive solution to our present questions, doubts, fears, and hopelessness. Know that the life we live is temporal and the hope that we can find when we rest in the promises of God’s Word is eternal.
I hope you are resting in the Lord, for he is your only hope!