I'm loving studying the letters to the Thessalonians for next week's seminary class! I wanted to share one particular note from 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 and a helpful comment from John Piper. Piper mentioned how we seldom address our emotions from the standpoint of Biblical doctrine. Yet, that is exactly what Paul and Timothy do with the Thessalonians. When opposition came (as they warned them it would in their initial proclamation of the Gospel--something we seem to dumb down in our own explanations of the Gospel today), they would be tempted to fear and renounce their faith. Paul and Timothy earnestly combat this through prayer and the exhortation of God's Word, that they might be established in their faith. Upon further worries and confusion about the future, Paul again comforts them with the "spade of Biblical doctrine" (phrase from Piper).
This is so practical for us today! How often do we treat our emotions from the standpoint of sound Biblical teaching?
Let me share a personal example of how this worked in my own life recently. This past week, I was able to take the boys and travel along with Laura on her work travel job in a neighboring village. Upon leaving Quinhagak after a great overnight stay there connecting with fellow believers, a strong system carrying extreme gusty winds began creeping over the YK-Delta. Now my aviation background kept be pretty skeptical that the local air service would fly down for us that night. Thus, when they showed up for us that evening, I was pretty surprised. Let's just say the winds produced probably the upper edge of legal flying conditions. As we stood with our jackets flapping to the rhythm of the winds, the pilot began loading our gear onto the twin engine Navajo. He promptly began sharing with me that the amount of people and gear we had totaled an amount of weight he was uncomfortable with in the current strong crosswind conditions. As he explained this to me, another air service landed with a Cessna Caravan. There were many empty seats on the Caravan and the seat belts afforded a safer position to strap Jathan in, rather than holding him as a lap infant through potential severe turbulence.
Now, my lack of flying over the past few years combined with now having two kids is producing within me a heightened awareness to the dangers of flying out in Alaska's bush. (While we may personalize utilize aviation at some point in our ministry, for now God is leading us in different ways. We currently rely on the local air carriers.)
As I kissed Laura and Jathan while they were boarding the other aircraft, I tried to reassure Elias that everything would be okay. Thus, we were all headed north 71 air miles back to Bethel aboard different flights. As each of our planes quickly lifted off the gravel runway, we soon felt the power of the winds carry and push us northward. In fact at 3,000 feet altitude we experienced a 87 mph tail wind, and we safely landed in Bethel in a mere 15 minutes! All in all the flight proved not too bumpy.
Now why do I share this story? Although I am a pilot myself, I found myself rather concerned for the safety of my family. Since we've arrived in Bethel, I've noticed a certain rise in concern regarding flying with our kids out here, even on calm weather days. As I sat next to Elias aboard our flight from Quinhagak watching Laura and Jathan's flight take off, my concerns met this text in 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3. God instantly brought this recently studied text to my mind. Do we treat our fears and concerns with the sound teaching of God's Word? As I thought how Paul and Timothy addressed the Thessalonian believers, my heart was instantly convicted, challenged, and encouraged all at the same time. Did I believe that God is sovereign over all things? Did I believe that He is as Colossians 1 teaches the Creator and Sustainer of all things? Did I believe that He can calm the storm as He did in the Gospels? Did I believe that He is our refuge like David writes in psalm-inspired worship? Did I believe that He is our Shepherd? Did I believe that He has a plan for our lives? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes! While the exact situation between the Thessalonians' fears facing persecution and my own fears over the safety of my family flying were different, the principle in addressing both issues was the same. Once we realize that we are to handle our emotions with the sound teaching of God's Word, then we must choose to trust in the truth of His Word. As we make these conscious choices, we can confidently ask our God to give us peace and security in His sovereignty. I am grateful for God's convicting, challenging, encouraging, and peace-giving work He did in my heart through this text and this experience the past few days!
May we all learn to consistently treat our fears, worries, etc. with the sound teaching of God's infallible Word!
Humbled under God's Word,