Wait for his Son from heaven … Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
—1 Thessalonians 1:10
The Greek believers who first read this letter may have been more eager for God’s judgment than many of us are. They lived under severe persecution and wanted God to come to deal with it. His “coming wrath” was good news for them, as it still is for persecuted believers in many parts of this world.
Recently we saw Greek citizens riot because they resisted measures to restore their economy to health. In ancient Greece, unsafe conditions and persecution were facts of daily life for the believers in Thessalonica. However, they lived “in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” They were able to look ahead in hope and to move forward because they trusted Jesus to rescue them.
God’s Son is coming to give us much more than a “Merry Christmas!”—whatever we may mean by that. He comes to set wrong things right, to comfort those who mourn, and to give hope to the weak who are trampled by the strong.
How do you picture the “wrath” from which Jesus rescues us? For starters, I think Jesus rescues us from the notion that God is constantly angry with us. We can live with the joy of knowing that God, like any loving parent, has good plans for us—even though we may not see those good plans each day or right away.
Holy Spirit, let me be known by work produced by faith, by labor prompted by love, and by endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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