I’ve been reading and re-reading I Thessalonians for my devotions, and I knew, undoubtedly, that many truths from this passage would make it from the The Word, into my heart, and eventually onto these digital pages. But you never can be sure what truths the Lord will impress on your spirit as you read a passage. I try to go to my personal devotions like David; “open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” And sometimes you’re surprised by what He shows you.
Today’s “wondrous thing” rests easily between the comfortable armchairs of everyday Christian life and the well-worn benches of deep biblical study. I’m not going to flesh out this truth in its entirety, but the Holy Spirit impressed it on my life today, and I believe I should share it with you.
In I Thessalonians 3:3, Paul speaks of the afflictions that he and Timothy had been experiencing. He even mentions that he sent Timothy to encourage the Thessalonians so that no one would be disturbed by the trials of Paul and Timothy. Isn’t that just like Paul? Looking out for others spiritual needs even as he is in need himself!
But at the end of verse three he makes a little comment that has huge doctrinal importance. “For you yourselves know that we have been destined for this;” speaking of the afflictions he’d referred to earlier in the verse.
Merriam-Webster tells us the word destined means “decree[d] beforehand: predetermine[d].” Paul was completely aware that God is, and was, 100% in control of all that enters into our lives; just read Romans.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
That’s how he learned contentment; regardless of what happened to him.
“How can I fear?
Jesus is near? He watches over me.
Worries all cease.
He gives me peace. How can I fear with Jesus.” -Ron Hamilton-
But then in verse ten, Paul says, “We night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face.” Why does a man who believes in the complete supremacy of God; the One Who foreknows, predestines, and predetermines everything, think he needs to pray “most earnestly” for a personal desire?
This is the core of the lesson I was reminded of today. This is the beauty of the true, biblical doctrine of God’s supremacy and our free will. God is not bound by our mortal views. He can predestinate an action that will be born from the free will of the person acting! There is a balance, nay, a synchrony of divine determination and personal prerogative to every moment.
In the same way, even though we know that “what will be” is “what will be,” we can go to our Heavenly Father and request blessings of Him, and rest assured that our prayers have real efficacy.
We serve an awesome God! May your cloudy soul be quieted knowing that He hears our prayers and that nothing that happens in life surprises Him.