“So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.” — II Thessalonians 2:13-17
You wouldn’t think that the small things in life would bring biblical applications, but they do. One day as I was making the trek from my home in NWCT to the train to go into NYC to teach, I saw this spider making its way across the outside of my windshield. I thought he should probably end his journey and exit because the trip would be long, 52 miles, and at a speed of 55 to 65 miles an hour, he certainly would think that the world was going to end in this hurricane on a nice warm sunny day! It kind of reminded me of the church in Thessalonica feeling the pressure, or even being a Christian today, feeling squeezed. How would we endure? How would my fair friend survive? As I pulled out of my driveway I saw Mr. Spider adjust a bit and settle in. In that short amount of time, he showed me the first thing as Christians we need to do:
Jesus even told us, we’ve been warned that trials will come our way in this world and yet, each time they come we wonder why. Our adjustment is not to be taken from the world’s way of thinking. We need to settle into what God has planned. In the book of James, it states to consider it all joy when trials come our way. I don’t know if I can do that, but I am getting better at letting go and letting God take control over the situations that occur in my life. Times get overwhelming when you begin to try to control the uncontrollable. We have been told what will happen, have we become prepared Christians?
So, how’s my friend doing on his newfound carnival ride? Well, he’s standing as we make a corner and start to accelerate to 40 . . . 50 . . . 60. He now did not move, he stayed in one place as the wind whipped by, sharing another insight which Paul writes about:
Stand fast. I have never counted the number of times Paul writes these very words to the many churches he corresponds with while he is in jail, but in almost each of the letters, he has told the new found believers to stand firm. Standing firm does not mean that we aren’t moving about, it translates as “so to not be shaken or troubled.” Are you troubled about what is going on in the world today? Christ says to not worry for He has overcome the world. When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm, we want to quickly make it subside, we move too and fro, change our minds, and try to make a way out of our own strength. Christians, we are in constant danger of being swept downstream by the current of ungodly culture. We are also prone to let the truths we know and the relationship we enjoy with God grow cold.
As I gazed out the windshield I was noticing something as the speed climbed, Mr. Spider had started to secrete some web material onto the glass allowing him to withstand the storm. He held onto what he knew would support and sustain him.
Holding on, there’s a term that Paul uses when we are told to stand firm. OK, I am standing but on what? How am I going to make it just by standing here? As Christians, we need to hold onto God and His word. John Bengel stated that “holding on is defined as not to let go, by adding nothing and subtracting nothing.” Are we holding on to what we have been taught by God’s word and by our Christian Brothers and Sisters who come alongside? When we open up the Bible, we can read about the Old Testament characters who weren’t perfect, but they trusted God to get them through tough times. Grip onto God, read His word and ride it out.
I arrive at my destination and pull into the parking garage to see that Mr. Spider made it through the long and speedy trip. I was curious to see exactly what he would do, would he just stay there? Would he stumble a while? Would he get down on his knees and thankfully pray?! As I sat there, he detached himself from the webbing gave a little wiggle and started walking across the windshield as if nothing ever happened.
Paul prays for the Thessalonians that God will give them the strength to remain where they are in their faith. He prays for a strengthening of heart to carry on. Are we able to move forward when the storms of life are passed? Or do we retreat and wave a white flag admitting defeat? As a Christian, we should be the last person standing. If we were to read on in 2 Thessalonians, Paul exhorts the church for future growth. Wiersbe states it this way, “We must keep on working. Every good word and work is a good motto to follow in these dark days. Keeping on giving out the Word; keep on working for Christ. As we win others to Christ, we are building up the body. When the body is completed, it will be caught away to glory.”
We may be attacked from all sides, we may be beaten down, we may find the world depressing, but it is our passion and love for Jesus Christ that keeps us going. It is our passion for Christ that ought to keep us sharing the Word of God, for it is the desire of the Almighty to have all know the saving love of Christ Jesus. In 2 Corinthians, Paul once again talks about being pressed and yet not abandoned, that promise is a promise of passion:
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow, but the things we can’t see now will last forever.” — II Corinthians 4:16 (Message Translation)
When we take our passion for Christ and focus on it, our troubles become triumphs through His strength and love for us.