1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 (New Living Translation)
We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.
When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is make some tea. The day is just not right without that caffeinated ritual. And although I have an army’s worth of serviceable mugs in my kitchen, there is one that’s my favorite. The cup has become even more of a favorite as it faded through repeated washings, chipped against the sink wall, and was generally beaten up by the dishwasher. It’s the perfect size to hold my steaming brew, but that’s not really why it’s my go-to cup. I like what is written on it:
Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
What great words to ponder first thing in the morning. But how do we actually get that kind of peace? How do we find a peace that carries us through our lives, regardless of the circumstances or challenges?
In today’s reading, the word translated in verse 5 as “full assurance” is plerophoria in Greek. Strong’s Concordance defines it as: “full conviction, firm persuasion, certainty.” Paul celebrates that the people of the Thessalonian church were given “full assurance that what we said was true.” This “full assurance” gave them the strength to endure “severe suffering” with peace and calm in their hearts.
Again, how do we get that kind of peace?
In the 1700s, John Wesley started a Christian movement in England that eventually became The United Methodist Church. He had grown up in a devout family and had been trained to be a preacher. And yet he still felt that something was missing. In May 1738, he went to a meeting on Aldersgate Street in London. In his journal, he wrote about what became a surprisingly life-changing moment: “About a quarter to nine, while [the speaker] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
The answer to “how do we get that kind of faith?” is simply: we don’t.
It’s not something we can get. We can’t earn it or acquire it or make it or force it. But it is something God wants to give us. We can choose to trust in it and to accept the gift. In a later letter to the church in Philippi, Paul will write: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
What keeps you from trusting in Jesus and in God’s love for you?
I like to append the Philippians 4 passage to Numbers 6-25 as a prayer for anyone who is troubled, “May the Lord bless you and keep you and lift up his his face and shine upon you and give you peace; the peace of God that passes all understanding and keeps your heart and mind steadfast through Jesus Christ.”
For me it’s not that I don’t trust Jesus and God’s love for me, it’s more that I don’t keep it foremost in my mind. Instead, I often labor too long over an issue I am struggling with and then remember that Jesus is there to comfort me . I need to remember the gift of peace that Jesus offers and accept it without delay.