I love the blessings of Scripture, whether in the prophetic fashion of Moses (Numbers 6:22-27) or the Spirit-fueled prayers of Paul. They always point back to God as the original Blesser and the One on whom we are dependent for every good thing. But they do not appear in a vacuum applicable to all the world regardless of belief. Their contexts often presume submission to God’s revealed truth.
Paul’s prayer for the believers in Thessalonica is no exception:
May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and in his special favour gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say. II Thess.2:16,17
Paul’s blessing is prefaced by instruction about the great deception that will precede Christ’s coming. These believers are already suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus and they’re only too ready for His return. Some have become idle busybodies thinking Jesus’ coming imminent. Paul writes to steady them and inform them of the events that will precede Christ’s coming so that they will stand firm in what they have believed and continue to speak and act as faithful stewards of God’s grace until He returns.
The comfort he speaks of is not that of a mother cuddling her infant in his fleecy blankie, but a ‘coming alongside’ as Advocate and Intercessor and Helper. It is the same function as that of the promised Spirit:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Jn. 14:16 KJV
This is the Comfort of an all-wise God who comes alongside us to guide us and guard us in all our troubles in order to make us worthy of our high calling. It includes exhortation, entreaty, instruction, admonishment, and beseeching…all those old-fashioned functions of true Love, that do us infinitely more good than a cuddly blankie can.
When Paul prays that they be given strength, he is asking that they be firmly established in what is true, that they be set resolutely in the right direction, that they be planted firmly in what is right. They don’t need designer ab’s. They need resolve to hang on to what they’ve been taught already, so that no lie will displace the truth they’ve been given!
And that is my prayer today for myself, and for fellow pilgrims who suffer and hope and wait for relief, and for wayfarers I notice testing the waters of false teaching…it’s a prayer that God is pleased to answer because of His great love for all the saints!