Do you ever have a moment when you just don’t know what to say?
You see something or reflect on something that is just so great or so exciting or so dear to you that words simply do not come to mind to describe the overflow in your heart.
I’m a pastor… so being at a loss for words is, of course, a rare occasion. But I do have those moments. Like Paul, I often press on and try to put words to it anyway, but sometimes we have to ask, “Where do I start?”
Paul seems to have one of those moments as he was writing to the dear souls in Thessalonica:
“For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,” (1 These 3.9)
He asks a rhetorical question here. “What thanksgiving,” he asks, “can we return to God for you?” In other words, “how do even express our gratitude for you?”
Paul paints a picture here of the great joy welling up in the hearts of his entire team as they travel and discuss this special flock. This joy is too rich for words. It’s too sweet. Of course, he goes on to share what that deep joy produces in them as they lift the Thessalonian believers in prayer:
“…As we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thess 3.10)?
When you have the kind of care for people that Paul and his team obviously had for their readers, lifting them in prayer is a natural and constant practice. But he expressed their desire to see them again.
But that last part of verse 10 seems odd. He tells them that they prayed that they would see them again “and supply what is lacking in your faith.” Their faith had continued to grow and develop and temper and strengthen. But Paul knew that there was, as is always the case, much more for them to learn and understand and believe.
It seems our caring apostle was constantly mindful of the ways that, even though we may grow and mature and develop in our faith, there is always more growth to be gained.
So Paul and his team are bursting with pride and gratitude that wells up in joy at the report of their strong and enduring faith. As he tries to express it, he seems to say… “Where do I start?”
Now… for those (somewhat aged) souls that cannot see those words without an Andy Williams flashback… just go get it out of your system here.
The love story on display in 1 Thessalonians is a fatherly, protective, encouraging love. It’s what stirs in my heart as I see so many of you or think of you. Don’t you want someone to feel that way about you BECAUSE OF your enduring faith?
Lean into His faith-working in your life. He will do it if you just let him.
Father, teach us to lean into the work You are doing in our lives. Stir up and establish and refine a faith that will stir great joy in those who see and hear it.