(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Well, as I’ve said, the two Thessalonians are focusing on living with eternity in view, and that is surely true of 2 Thessalonians. My deeply creative title for this is, “Waiting-Part II,” this time not ‘Action,’ but ‘Comfort,’ the ultimate comfort that Paul wants to give these people who are living in the difficulty of life between the ‘already’ and the ‘not yet.’ Where we still live in a broken groaning world; where we still struggle with our sin and the sin of others; where things are not operating the way they are supposed to operate; where there are confusing mysteries for us; where temptation abounds.
The ultimate comfort for us is that God will make all things right again! Jesus will return and there will be no more suffering, there will be no more sin, there will be no more sorrow, that He will in fact make all things new! What an incredible promise! We have a hard time conceptualizing this because we've always lived as sinners, flawed people in this broken world. What would it be like for all of that brokenness to be gone and for us to stand with Jesus, like Jesus, righteousness and peace forever? What an amazing thing!
So, the call is to stand firm. Don't be wooed away from the life you’ve been called to, from the teaching that you’ve been called to. And, in order to instill their hope, Paul gives more details about Christ’s coming, again, defense against false teaching. And he says, “Remember your comfort in trial, your comfort in persecution is always, ‘this will end.’” Christ’s first resurrection guarantees that second resurrection.
But, as he is calling them to comfort, Paul has to deal with a misunderstanding, and it is this, that if this is all going to be gone and Jesus is going to create something new, why work? Why not just chill out and wait for it to happen? What good does it do for us to work? And Paul says, “No, no, no, no,” and returns to that action emphasis that was there in 1 Thessalonians.
Three things he says, “Don't ever stop doing good, do good.” One of the ways you live with eternity in view is you commit yourself to a life of doing good.
Second, don't grow weary. Life in a fallen world is hard. I don’t know about you, but there are times I'm just weary. I'm just tired of the fight. I wish I didn’t have to face temptation. I wish I wouldn't get needlessly irritable. But he says, “Don’t grow weary!”
And then he says, “Wait in hope, let hope fuel you're waiting, let hope give you the strength to wait.”
And, then he ends with this sweet reminder, “God will guard and establish you!” You don't wait alone. You don't wait in your own power. You are not your own security system as you wait. You are never your own strength. You never grow yourself; you never grow your own ability to wait; it's God who guards you, and it's God who establishes you! The reason that we have hope in waiting is that God is working in the wait. He is with us in the wait. He strengthens us in the wait. He gives us wisdom in the wait. He renews us in the wait. He establishes us in the wait. God is our hope in waiting, and the God who will live with us in eternity has invaded our ‘here and now,’ and He gives us hope as we wait!