I Thessalonians 2:17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
Paul was not in charge of his life. He was submissive to God’s will for him. He would have loved to be with the Thessalonian saints in person, but was not able to be there at this time. There was a spiritual battle taking place and that can affect the child of God. God is greater than the devil. He never allows his child to be overwhelmed. He does allow the devil some room to interfere with that which is good and right. We are not given the details on what was taking place here, but Paul addressed it further in chapter 3.
Even though Paul was not able to be with them in person, he was with them in heart. We see again that Paul’s desire was to be with the saints. He was not satisfied to be away from them. This is the key for us today as well. There are times when we will be separated from those God has given us opportunity to minister to. However, that is not the norm and that is not where God’s servants are content to remain. God does not want His children to be separated from other saints. He wants us to be an encouragement to one another.
Paul did not allow this separation to discourage him. It was not a stumblingblock to him. He did not want it to be a stumblingblock for the saints at Thessalonica. He told them what his thoughts were and they knew that as well. You can sense when someone is genuine and when they are not.
As we read in verse 18, Satan was hindering Paul and others from being with the Thessalonian saints at this time. Paul reminded the saints that he had been able to meet with them more than once. This was evidence of the reality that this was not his choice to stay away. We do not know the details of the situation, but we know that Satan can interfere with the work of God at times. We know that Paul faced persecution which included being stoned, imprisoned, and other ways in which he was not able to move freely. The devil does all he can to hinder the Word of God from being proclaimed. He also seeks to isolate God’s people to try to discourage them.
In verse 19 Paul stated that the Thessalonian saints were a blessing to him and to others. It is rewarding to see a lost person saved and growing in the Lord. Paul knew this work was a work of God. It is a blessing to see God working through you in the life of another person. Paul was not one to glory in self. He knew Who was in charge. He anticipated seeing these saints in the presence of “our Lord Jesus Christ”. All true saints will be with the Lord. That is the final destination of all saints. Paul also reminded the saints that our Lord Jesus Christ was coming back again. He believed in the return of the Lord. As we noted earlier, there was a day coming when Jesus Christ would come back in the clouds to take all the New Testament saints home. Paul did not know the day nor the hour, but he knew it was real.
Those who are saved today are living in anticipation of the soon return of the Lord. We do not know the day nor the hour. We know it is coming. We keep our eyes on heaven as we live here. This view is part of what motivates the true child of God to walk humbly and to purify himself.
The apostle John wrote:
I John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
That is a sure hope for the true child of God. Many people are limited to hoping for things on this earth. They are short changing themselves. They are missing out on such necessary and great blessings by not trusting in the Lord.
Paul closed off this chapter with the reminder again that the saints in Thessalonica were their glory and joy. He was not using empty flattery. He was speaking of the blessing of knowing these saints and the true joy they brought to his heart. It is a blessing to be in the company of saved people who are growing in the Lord. That is part of what the Christian life is about. That is why true saints can make the things of God their priority. It is not that they are snobs or uncaring. It is that God’s will and way comes first. True Christians have more in common with other true Christians than they have with the world. The world is a harvest field and thus there is a need to be reaching out to see others saved. As the world sees the fellowship that exists among God’s people it can draw some of them to explore this unique situation more. A few will repent toward God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Most will remain on the outside, some longing for more, but stubbornly refusing to go where the “more” is.
Today is a new day. Choose wisely today. Let God bless you with His comfort and joy. Those who are saved can take joy in knowing and communicating with other saints. Those who are lost need to stop and think of what they are doing. Knowing the true God is the only way to go through life. It is the way of blessing.