Daily Devotion, 07/17/2018, “Forgive and Focus”
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
In Paul’s second letter to the Christ-Followers in the city of Thessalonica, he’s hoping to bring some encouragement. They were being persecuted at a high level because of their faith in Jesus. It was much like we’ve seen in recent years with ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. You can get a picture of some of the horrors they endured due to their faith in Hebrews 11:36-38. As a means of survival, they could have chosen stop loving and serving and healing in Jesus name. They could have just stopped telling people the good news of the gospel. They also could have chosen to fight back and get even with those who were persecuting them and their families. No one would blame them for doing either…I wonder what I would have done. Paul did not try to minimize the reality of their suffering nor did he say that it would all be better soon if they just kept praying and doing the right thing. He had no reason to think that it would get better in their day and it didn’t. History tells us that it actually got worse.
You likely are not facing the kind of suffering and persecution they faced but you do have those in your circle who hurt you, oppose you and trouble you. What do you do with that? Paul’s counsel would be to leave it in God’s hands. God is just. He will make things right when Jesus returns. In the meantime, He will “give relief to you who are troubled.” Instead of stewing over vengeful thoughts, losing your joy and your ability to love, God wants you to focus on living for Him, loving well and sharing His message of salvation. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us according to Jesus. We cannot do those things if we allow vengeful thoughts, bitterness and anger to ferment within us.
May you forgive often so that you can focus on loving well. May no amount of trouble distract you from your calling. May God “give relief to you who are troubled.”
You are loved!