I saw a pointed cartoon in a book on evangelism written by Michael Green. It showed a nurse leaving a brand-new baby just outside the door of a maternity unit. The caption read: ‘’You’re on your own now!’’ It made its point very powerfully. New believers need lots of love and care and attention.
These are surprising words. Paul and his friends were like spiritual parents to the new Christians in Thessalonica (1:7, 11). Surely the babes in Christ would feel ‘orphaned’ by the enforced separation (Acts 17:1ff) that came? But one translation of (2:17) says: ‘’when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time…’’ There was such a strong attachment between Paul and these infant believers. He/they felt like orphans. ‘’Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends?’’ The Message. New Christians need to be loved like that.
When you become separated from your young children, even if it is only for a short time, you are desperate to find them; to reconnect. So it was for Paul (17b, 18). But he came up against a problem. There is something of a mystery to the words: ‘’but Satan stopped us.’’ We have to understand this in the context of the Bible story as a whole, which tells us that God is sovereign. He is in supreme control. Nothing can happen without His permission. (Think, for example, of the story of Job: Jb.1:12). Nevertheless, we have a very real enemy who has the power to do things. ‘’I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time.’’ The Message. ‘’…but somehow Satan prevented our coming.’’ J.B. Phillips. Paul was also aware, though, that there is a way to clear spiritual roadblocks, and we will come to this in the next chapter (3:11). It is by prayer. This is how we bulldoze Satan’s barricades out of the way; this is the way to blow them up!
I heard a philosophy professor, Doctor Don Evans, preaching in Southport many years ago. He was an outstanding speaker. In one of his talks he referred to (19, 20). He said, ‘’If you take your children to London, and you stand outside Buckingham Palace, and the Queen comes out on to the balcony, your greatest joy will be that they are seeing Her Majesty; not that you are!’’ It’s a good point and it has stayed with me. But Paul looked forward to the day when he would actually present his ‘children’ to the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Thessalonians would see Jesus, and at the same time they would be Paul’s pride and joy; the fruit of his ministry.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please give us new ‘children’ to care for, and help us to care for the new children you give.