8 For now we live, if you rare standing fast in the Lord. 9 For swhat thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly tnight and day uthat we may see you face to face and vsupply what is lacking in your faith?
Encouragement is a strong noun. Encourage is a strong verb, an action that requires thought and deliberateness. Why? Because we are creatures that get caught up in our own world, in the things that we can’t seem to see past in order to see others
In this passage, Paul is writing to the Thessalonians. He has received an encouraging report from Timothy regarding their faith, their love. O, how that report encouraged Paul, for he tells them:
“for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith”
Paul and companions are in distress, they are afflicted. We read elsewhere in scripture more details about what Paul endured. But Paul is comforted–he is encouraged by this report. He is encouraged enough about the Thessalonians and their faith that he goes on to say
“For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord”
Do you see that? Do you see how Paul was encouraged by their faith, by the fact that they were “Standing Fast” in Jesus? But it doesn’t end there. No, Paul then turns around and sends strong, strong encouragement to the believers in Thessalonians. He sends them encouragement that they, in their days of possible despair, their days of potential deep discouragement, could hold on to. Words that are not empty nor shallow; words that are neither trite or hollow.
9 For swhat thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly tnight and day uthat we may see you face to face and vsupply what is lacking in your faith?
Paul and his companions experience joy for the sake of the Thessalonians–before their God. The one God that both Paul and the Thessalonians believe in and serve. The God that unites them as family, as brothers and sisters. How the Thessalonians must have been encouraged by Paul’s words! And then he continues with what I believe must be some of the most encouraging words anyone can hear from another human being: “as we pray most earnestly night and day”. In this situation, Paul is praying that God will grant him the opportunity to see the Thessalonians once again face to face, and supply what is lacking in their faith. But just the words alone “as we pray most earnestly night and day” hold tremendous encouragement for the hearer. Tremendous.
Do we encourage one another to Stand Fast? When was the last time I told someone to Stand Fast in God? I tell people other things to encourage–like “Hang in there” or “I’m praying for you”. But when was the last time that I grabbed someone by the shoulders and earnestly said “My friend, Stand Fast in the Lord. I experience joy because of you before our God. And earnestly I will pray for you night and day”? How do we as the church get to a place where these verses are autobiographical of the body–a place where we are encouraged to stand fast. Where we experience joy because of one another before our God. And when will the church body say to each other: I will pray for you night and day?