You know how we lived among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
Before we move on, let’s discuss the last sentence of verse 5.
Our dog, Josh, had been part of our family since September 2006, and he got very sick these last few months. Yesterday, it was time to say goodbye, so we made an appointment with a vet to have hit put to sleep; that’s what you do as a pet owner. Josh died bravely, and he licked me on the face just a few seconds before he received the injection. It tore at me but I didn’t want to see my canine friend suffer. He was my pal, and I loved him. My wife and I cried together as he died.
I have another friend, not canine, who is battling terminal cancer. She and I were co-workers, and we’ve stayed friends over the years, commiserating over work, sharing life stories. My friend has battled cancer already, but this time the disease is likely to win. How do you support someone who is facing death? Do we ever really know what to say when they are fighting this battle we all must eventually fight?
The Apostle Paul, Silas, and Timothy had lived among the people of the church at Thessalonica. They had witnessed to the parishioners, helped them set up things from the start, and helped them to hold fast to this new and fast-spreading faith. At the time this was happening, Christianity was brand-new. When the congregation was figuring out how to do things, how to worship in the face of real, physical persecution, they did so without history to guide them. They were setting that precedent; they were figuring out how to do things for the first time.
What a comfort it must have been to have these storied men live among them, be themselves among them, and help them through this difficult time.
Perhaps that’s a lesson we can remember now, in difficult times when we lose loved ones and face the troubles life gives us. God gives us people in our lives to live among us for our sake. He gives us each other to support each other, encourage each other, love on each other. God chooses to live among us by living through us and letting us share Him through how we live. Famous people don’t make the world go around: you and I, living out our faith, do.
What do we say when our friends and family face death, when times are tough and we don’t know what else to say or do? We love them as Jesus would, listening, talking, feeling for them when they hurt, even saying goodbye. We do what Paul and his friends did, for their sake, for their comfort. For Jesus’ glory.
For further reading: Colossians 3:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Romans 1:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:6.
My Lord, teach me to live Your love for other and to others in my circle.