Paul knows that difficult days are coming, days of darkness. He wants the Thessalonians and us to be aware and not caught off guard. It’s not that we are to live our lives with constant anxiety but with assurance. And why is that? “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). The “mental health” industry is going gang-busters, these days. I use quotation marks because, I think, we no longer use the terms in the way we once did. “Mental health” seems, today, to be applied to any sort of emotional discomfort that one might experience, no matter how slight or severe. Financial strain resulting in anxiety? It’s a mental health issue. Worry about climate change? It’s a mental health issue. Bad decisions with consequences? It’s a mental health issue. Well, so be it, but as those resting in Christ, though we experience many of the same tribulations as others, we do not despair because we know, whatever the day brings, one day, we will live with him! And, so, we “Rejoice always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all circumstances” (5:16-18).
Children of the heav’nly Father,
safely in His bosom gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven
such a refuge e’er was given.
God His own doth tend and nourish;
in His holy courts they flourish.
From all evil things He spares them;
in His mighty arms He bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
from the Lord His children sever;
unto them His grace He showeth,
and their sorrows all He knoweth.
Tho’ He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
to preserve them pure and holy. -- Carolina Sandell (the “Fanny Crosby” of Sweden” 1855)