But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thes. 2:13-14 NET)
We are in an incredibly tense American presidential race. Many have commented that it is the worst that we have seen during our lifetimes, and I would echo these thoughts. Also, as America is the most powerful nation on earth the whole populace of the world is caught up in the drama and nastiness of it.
Much of this I believe to be no more than political hype – both sides threatening that if the other candidate is elected the world will [practically, in their words] come to an end. Yet it has upset people around the world.
We can learn something from what Paul wrote in these verses of 2 Thessalonians. After describing the rise and ultimate downfall of the Antichrist, which will happen during the worst days on planet earth, Paul gives reasons why we can be grateful. He began to section with an intent to comfort us, not to upset us (2 Thes. 2:1-2) and he returns in these verses to accomplish that goal.
My friends, do not miss the peace and joy of Christ in dark and tense times. Jesus spoke of peace and joy that no one could take from a Christian (John 16:22) and this is the peace and joy we need to have.
Why can we be grateful in dark times? What does this passage teach us?
We can be grateful because we are assured by the love of God. He called us “brothers and sisters loved by the Lord” (2:13). Let us not despair because God loves us and His faithful love will secure our forgiveness and our salvation. No matter what happens on this earth, we should always remember that the Father affectionately remembers us. Sometimes we can see the trace of prophecy in current historical or political developments, but not always. When we cannot clearly see how God’s program of redemption is working out, we still trust in His love.
We can be grateful because God is at work in our lives. This is another cause of gratitude, that God’s love is experienced through the sanctifying work in our hearts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes the truth of God’s Word and matures us and works in us to make us better people. During tumultuous times we can measure how mature we are by how our hearts are reacting. Are we afraid? Then we need to trust God more. Are we angry and vindictive? Then we need to embrace and share grace more.
We can be grateful because we are promised glory. Our citizenship is not in this world. We are just passing through this life. Our eternal home is with God in heaven where we shall share in His glory through the redemption we have in Christ. We should be responsible to do our duty here on earth, to make this world a better place. But our affections and expectations are ultimately invested in the eternal kingdom of God. “Conducting out lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the day of God,” as Peter wrote:
Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:8-13)
Christians do not panic like the rest of the world. We live confidently, boldly, and at peace.