The Whole World in God’s Hands
“As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you…we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face…when I could stand it no longer, I sent [Timothy] to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 3:5
The Apostle Paul was in a long distance relationship. Paul had gone to Thessalonica to tell people about the love of God revealed in Christ (Acts 17:1-9). He proclaimed the good news and caught the people’s attention. God-fearing Greeks, Jews, and a number of prominent women followed Paul. Together, they set up a baby church in Thessalonica. However, others in the city were not so keen on Paul’s message and they incited a riot. They assaulted and kidnapped members of the newborn church. They brought these Thessalonians before political leaders claiming that this new church said Jesus was the King, and Caesar was not (a charge not entirely false, see chapter 4). Their persecution became so intense that Paul was forced to flee the city under cover of darkness.
Paul was just getting going in Thessalonica when he was abruptly run out of town. Now, from a distance, he worried about the vulnerable church. Would they shatter under the weight of persecution? Without a leader would internal power struggles tear them apart? Would another teacher come into their community and lead them astray? Separated from those he cared for, Paul was worried.
Living on an island means that we are often separated from those we love. Whether we moved here from the mainland leaving family behind, or we’ve watched family move away over the course of our lifetime; we know what it feels like to love from afar. We know what it’s like to worry about those who feel just out of reach.
The Apostle Paul sent his friend Timothy to Thessalonica to learn of their fate. Much to his delight, Paul learned that God had continued to nurture that little church even in Paul’s absence.
Sometimes, all we can do, all we must do, is trust that God loves our loved ones just as much as we do. Even when we struggle to connect with those we love there is comfort in knowing that God continues to nurture them, bless them, and will never give up on them.
Next time you feel far from your loved ones let your heart be comforted by the truth that God is as close to them as their next breath and that through God we are bound together in ways that transcend time and space.