Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ESV
Paul opens 2 Thessalonians 2 by asking the believers “not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed.” The problem is that by the time you’re asking someone not to panic, there’s a pretty good chance that one of you is already panicking. In this case, it seems to be the Thessalonians. With confusion around whether or not the Lord had already returned, Paul wants to lower the temperature and reassure them. So, he makes it abundantly clear that things are going to get much worse…which doesn’t seem like the best way to quell a panic. It seems like it would be more tempting to go with, “It’s not as bad as you think,” or maybe, “Things are going to turn around.” Instead, Paul’s message is more akin to, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Why is this Paul’s approach? Is it as cold and calloused as it might seem? I don’t think it is, but to understand why, we have to remember the root of their panic and the foundation of their faith. The cause of their concern was not actually the present challenges they faced but the potential that they had missed the coming of the Lord. So, Paul’s assurance that the presence of the first didn’t necessarily entail the second was just what they needed. It may also be just what we need–a reminder that the presence of suffering doesn’t mean the removal of God’s presence. And that brings us to the foundation of their faith–our faith–the good news that Jesus died, was buried, and was raised for the forgiveness of our sins. Or as Paul puts it here, “eternal comfort and good hope through grace.”
Let’s pray, as Paul did for the Thessalonians, that God will comfort our hearts and establish us in every good work and word no matter what challenges we face.