Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:1–13
Key verses: (9-10) How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
Reflection: Three things jump out at me reading this passage from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians: 1) Love known; 2) Love shown; 3) Love grown.
This passage is a reminder to them and to us of the joy in knowing that we are loved when life is tough. I hear sheer delight coming through the voice of Paul, with a dash of relief. In spite of everything set against this young community of faith, their faith continues. This letter serves an encouraging reminder that this Thessalonian community of faith is still loved and is still being prayed for by Paul and Silas, even in the midst of certain suffering. Relationships matter, particularly when life gets tough — which we experience in various ways — relationships matter! Sometimes we feel as if we don’t deserve love. Other times we feel as if we are the unlovable because of what we have done, what we have not done, or the voice of our own insecurities. To know you are prayed for, supported and loved by others and by God in midst of suffering and the difficulties of life, is a wonderful and joyous experience.
The prayer for the Thessalonian community is that “the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” This community has rooted themselves and their relationships in love. It is love that ensures not only survival but revival in and through sufferings. “Without love we are nothing” as Paul claims elsewhere. It is the practice of love, to show love to self and others, that will be the ultimate witness to the Good News. Jesus made it clear: the only thing that matters is to love God, and to love neighbor as self.
God is love. When God’s love is encountered, our response is to give thanks for the gifts of grace and mercy we have been given. “How can we thank God enough” for the people in our lives and the things we have received? GRATITUDE. Such an important word for us! To live a life of gratitude is to live a life of praise and thanksgiving. To live a life a life of gratitude is to be a living breathing expression of love. When you are grateful for the things in our life, you begin to find more things to be grateful about. Author and speaker Jon Gordon writes, “Abundance will flow into our lives when gratitude flows out of our hearts.” Thanks be to God!
Prayer: God of love, remind us this day that we are loved unconditionally by you. Guide us in our relationships to be bearers of your love. Help us to be grateful for the gifts of life and love, even in the midst of difficult experiences. It is your love shown in Jesus Christ that we pray. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].