“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11, NLT
“Even When Things Don’t Make Sense!”
We must admit that when life hurls the proverbial curve ball at us, it’s hard to feel optimistic. This can occur despite our best intentions or positive outlook on life. We must ask the question:“How can my faith accommodate my deepest yearnings? If we treat our faith like a magic wand, “we will,” as the venerable ApostlePaul said, “be most miserable.” Our faith is far more valuable thanwe could ever imagine. It is not a commodity to be used or discarded; but it is the power of unshakeable belief and irreducible hope. It is that engagement of faith, that dares us to “be encouraged” when we’re faced with circumstances that defy reason, common sense and justice. A new generation of Christianshad emerged in Thessalonica, the major city in ancient Macedonia. Wealth and influence had become rampart; but along with thatprosperity came biases, prejudices, and persecution inflicted on the Christian community. The community had become more diverse than it was, when the Apostle Paul first associated with them. They were assaulted without; and haunted by fears within. Some looked for imminent release and escape from their world. In juxtaposition to their anxiety, the Apostle told them to remain encouraged; and he added, “as you are already encouraging each other.” This latter part of the statement didn’t square with the first part; or so it may have seemed, to some of the beleaguered. Some times when words do not seem to make sense; hidden beneath the language is a message of hope. Sometimes, it’s as simple as “keep the faith” or “you’re not alone.” Some years ago, a wonderful young member of our congregation enlisted in the Navy. It was during a time of global turmoil. Thankfully he retuned home safely after several tours in the Persian Gulf. One day, he came to my office with a gift. It was a banner. He said, “Don’t open it now, but later.”On a tough day, I unfurled the banner. It read, “Don’t Give Up The Ship.” I rediscovered the encouragement within me!