Friday, November 9, 2018
2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 17 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.
Today is one of those days. It should be different because it’s Friday, but it feels like a Monday. I can’t blame it on anything that happened since Sunday because everything was fantastic. I can’t blame it on a lack of understanding or appreciation of my permanent relationship with Jesus Christ because I know in my heart the eternal gift God has given me by His grace. But it’s one of those days nonetheless, when I want to stay in bed and not do anything. My mind is captured by thoughts of escape from the daily routine (I wanted to say grind but that sounds so bleak). I want a day with no responsibility and no interruptions. I’m sure you can relate and that you have had days like this. That’s why I am so thankful for today’s verse of Scripture. It tells me I am normal to feel this way.
Paul states that there are two aspects to encouragement from God that are equally important in our lives. First, there is the encouragement that comes from knowing that we are eternally His and that the hope of eternity is always at work in our lives. On most days this is sufficient to keep us going. With our eyes fixed on the finish line and the rewards of glory in the presence of Jesus Christ, we press on. The knowledge of the love of God and His gift of grace to us motivate us to live faithfully in His service. But second, with an understanding of human nature and its emotional instability, Paul asks God to encourage our hearts for the everyday routine. Looking at the eternal does not eliminate the need to deal with the immediate, and God knew we would need daily help with the immediate.
The word translated encourage in these verses literally means to call near. It is the same basic word that Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit when He told the disciples that he would send them a Comforter. This morning as I lay in bed trying to motivate myself to get up, I rolled over and wrapped the down comforter on our bed tightly around me, pulling it up close to my face. It is named well. It was so comforting. I loved the feeling of contentment and security it produced. But comforters are only able to do that when we draw them near to us. Looking at one from across the room never accomplishes that.
When we came to Christ for salvation, He sent the Comforter to wrap us up with the contentment and security of our eternal relationship with God. But our daily routines draw us, as it were, out from under the comforter. The promise of glory in heaven is folded neatly on the bottom of the bed when we head out to tackle the necessary obligations of the day. Every so often we may take a look at the Comforter, and we may even long for the end of the day when we can crawl back under it and snuggle up. Sometimes we may even do that in the middle of the day. But most of the time we just look at the comforter from across the room.
But looking at eternity from across the room doesn’t make life better. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could carry the comforter around with us all day, like Linus’ security blanket, so that we felt safe all the time?
That’s exactly what God knew we would need, and He did it for every one of His children. God did more than simply wrap us up with the Comforter – He made it possible for us to have the Comforter with us every moment of every day. The Comforter indwells us and is constantly encouraging us in our everyday routine. The eternal hope of glory became our daily help for the grind. We are encouraged by His presence to carry out every good deed and word. God provides comfort, contentment, and security for the immediate while we wait for the eternal. We have been granted constant nearness to God.
Suddenly today is not one of those days anymore. It has become one of God’s days. With my eyes fixed on the finish line, I run the race that is set before me because the Author and Finisher of my faith is running right with me. His presence is not just the reward at the end of the race; it is the reality during the race.
So, take your eyes off the eternal for a moment, and look at the immediate. You’ll see Jesus there, giving you comfort, encouragement, contentment, and security. Keep running. Jesus will give you the strength because He gave you the reason for running in the first place.