“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!” We sang that hymn next to a grave yesterday, a bitterly cold wind beating on our backs. Our sister in the faith had died suddenly, grieving us all, but still we called out the truth: Jesus is on His way, and so, even in grief, we rejoice in Him.
That’s what St. Paul intends by this command. He’s not calling for Pollyanna thinking, a way to shield ourselves from feeling the pains of our losses. No, but having just set forth the promise of Christ’s return, he’s telling the believers in Thessaly to confess that gospel in every situation, happy or sad. Feel the pain, and then meet it with the promise.
So what do you face today? What sharp winds of challenge, blessing, disappointment, or fear will pound on your heart? Approach every situation in this conviction: you are one for whom Christ Jesus came to Bethlehem; with you He still abides; and He is on His way to give you a full share in His victory. What happens today passes away tomorrow, but rejoice! Emmanuel, God-with-us, God-with-you, is forever.
LET US PRAY: O Lord, as I, with Your Church, prepare to celebrate the birth of Your Son, grant me Your Holy Spirit, that I may see in His first advent the brilliance of His final appearing in glory; and by the promise of that glory, strengthen me to rest and live in hope each day; through Christ my Lord. Amen
Pastor Steven K. Gjerde