I’ve had the interesting task of training new teen drivers… 7 times now. I was a much younger, less grayed man when I started.
One of the challenging things to teach a new driver is to look ahead while maintaining awareness of where we are and what is going on around us. Though we have to be diligently conscious of many things, we have to look ahead.
Wise people, according to Proverbs 27.12, look ahead to see the danger approaching and hide themselves. In other words, they see it coming and prepare.
Paul was a wise man, but, with the Holy Spirit within him, he could see with a spiritual insight and perhaps even a supernatural revelation of things to come. He reminds the Thessalonians that he had warned them when he was there:
“For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know” (1 These 3.4).
The wise apostle had assured his students that hardships were going to be a part of the journey. The truth is that, in this broken world full of broken people, affliction is unavoidable. So maybe it wasn’t any huge insight, but the sober reality that hardships are a part of this life.
The genuine faith of these believers that Paul has spent the first couple of chapters celebrating was strong, but it would surely be tested. And, while he had done all that he knew to do to make sure that their faith would stand up to the testing, some things simply cannot be known until the testing comes.
“For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain” (1 Thess 3.5).
Paul, though confident in their faith, still was afraid that it might not be all that he thought it was. He expresses his fear in kind of a strange way, but he seems to point squarely at the adversary, Satan, who would seek to destroy their faith.
The missionary team had not misled the young believers in Thessalonica in regard to the things that were sure to come. Paul was like a good driving instructor, calling attention to things out on the horizon that may present challenges.
These young believers faced some tremendous challenges in the way of persecution and heartache. And their mentors write back to say, in essence, “Yeah, we saw it coming.”
You and I, if we would really hear Paul’s instruction, will recognize that troubles are indeed around the bend. The great God in whom we have placed our faith is indeed faithful. But we just don’t learn that unless that faith in Him is tested.
So when things settle down on the other side of the next storm, will we be able to look back and say the same, “We saw it coming?”
Father, we pray You would give us the wisdom to see trouble coming and to hide our faith deep in Your character in order to stand.