Read: 1 Thessalonians 1 – 2:20
“… and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 1:3
Like all of Paul’s letters, there is so much to digest in each chapter – it’s hard to pick out one thing to focus on! But focus, we must. Here’s my two cents . . .
The lives of the people in the Thessalonian church were full of evidence of their conversion. They were recognized by people, not only in their own city, but in far away places as well, as people of love, faith, grace, and generosity. Even through suffering, persecution, and adversity the Thessalonian church remained steadfast, growing in their faith and witness for Jesus.
There was definitely something special about them – something that made them stand out from the others. What was it?
After reading and re-reading the passage and then reading it again – I saw it. In verse 3 Paul writes that he thanks God for their “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The reason the Thessalonian church was able to thrive even in the face of hardship and persecution was because their eyes were fixed on Jesus – their whole hope was in Him.
A year ago my son was on a school field trip. The class was taking a historic tour of Wheeling which included walking across the Suspension Bridge. Have you ever walked across the Suspension Bridge? When you look down, you see the flowing river below you and you can feel the sway and bounce of the bridge as you walk. It’s a little nerve-wracking for most people and Deuce doesn’t like heights so this little jaunt across the bridge wasn’t going very well for him. A mom who was chaperoning the trip (and a good friend) told Deuce to just keep his eyes focused ahead – on the goal – the other side of the bridge. So that’s what Deuce did and it made all the difference. As he raised his eyes and focused on the goal, the moving river and swaying bridge faded into the background and he was able to endure to the end.
We all have our shaky bridges to cross. In fact, sometimes life can seem like one shaky bridge after another. Our natural inclination is to look at our circumstances – at all the reasons to fear and worry. But when we remember that our hope is in Jesus and we put our focus on Him, our circumstances and fears fade to the background and we’re able to not only endure, but thrive – so much so that people take notice.
This was what was special about the Thessalonians – and it works for us too!
So as you go about your day, notice the shaky bridges you’re walking across and pay close attention to where your eyes are focused as you walk. If your eyes are not on Jesus and the hope you have in Him – refocus. Like the hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for the hope I have in You! Please help me take my eyes off my circumstances and to refocus on You. You are more than enough. More than I could hope for or imagine. I pray that as I focus on You, my faith would grow and You would be glorified in my life. In Your name I pray, amen.