2 Thessalonians 2; Isaiah 27-28; Psalm 118
Teen love can be a terrible thing to watch. Shakespeare showed us that in the classic play of Romeo and Juliet. According to Shakespeare, Juliet was 13 and Romeo was just a bit older. Their parents didn’t like each other and certainly didn’t want their child hanging out with the other one. And so, we see the despair of young, forbidden love. Juliet came up with an idea that would allow them to be together: she drugged herself to make her look dead. Her belief was that when her parents got her out of the family house after she died, she and Romeo would be freed from the constraints of family. Someone was supposed to tell Romeo. He didn’t get the message, and when he saw Juliet’s body lying, as if dead, he was so distraught, he killed himself. Juliet, upon reviving, was so distraught about Romeo’s death that she killed herself.
Teenage love con be very dramatic. Kids, when they get discouraged, can take extreme actions. And, it’s easy for kids to get discouraged: they don’t get all the information about a situation – like what happened to Romeo, they have a failure to communicate, parents get in the way. Discouragement can lead kids to do all sorts of questionable things. Adults don’t fare much better. We get discouraged and we shut down. We lash out. We get in feuds making sure our kids can’t see each other. Christians can get discouraged too, when we lose our focus on God. It’s easy to do that, especially when someone comes along with false teaching. Paul had to deal with that happening in the Thessalonian Church. Note these words of encouragement. “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)
The teaching was circulating among the churches that the day of the Lord had already come, and they had missed it. The Thessalonians were upset and discouraged that they had missed the boat. They were confused and unsure of what to do next. Paul sought to encourage them. Some of the teaching was alleged to have come from Paul and his response, in today’s terms, would have been to label that teaching “fake news.” He reminded them of some of the conditions that were necessary before the Lord returned and then sought to encourage them with this prayer and statement. He reminded them that God loved them and encouraged them through His grace. He prayed that God would encourage them and strengthen them. All that encouragement and strength was given for a purpose: that those in the church could do good deeds and say the right things.
I don’t know how many rapture warnings I’ve lived through, but the truth of the matter is that I’m still here on earth. One of the problems with these date setters is that people can get all excited about the supposed date of the coming of the Lord, only to be discouraged when the return doesn’t happen. Paul would remind us, should we be discouraged about that, that if we are here on earth, living and breathing, we have God’s encouragement; we have God’s grace. If we’re still here, that means that there are still more people who need to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, still more who need His grace. We’re here to show them the grace of God and to do that by our good deeds and words. Whatever happens today, as long as we are on this earth, we have purpose: God’s purpose. Let’s not be discouraged by the events of this world. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith and show His love and grace to others who need His encouragement also.
Lord, remind me of Your presence, Your love, and Your grace today, even in the darkest hours.