Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 2

Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 2

Study Guide, April 28, 2024

Pastor Clay Olsen

One of the most valuable gems on Earth is, of course, a diamond. A diamond is categorized among the rare and precious stones on Earth. But get this, on another planet, on Saturn, it’s a different story. Here is something that scientific researchers have discovered about Saturn that is absolutely fantastic, and it is this: Because of the extreme atmospheric pressure, carbon atoms that fall onto the surface become crystallized into diamonds. They estimate that as much as 2.2 million pounds of diamonds rain down on parts of Saturn every year! Talk about a planet with ‘Bling’! There are so many astounding things that we have yet to discover about ‘creation’…about our own world and the heavens above us. Many of these wondrous discoveries have already been revealed to us in the wondrous Scriptures that God has given us to help us better know our God and our world…and especially, to better understand wondrous things about the world to come!

And so, let’s continue uncovering more wonders as we further our sojourning through 2 Thessalonians. But we do need to unpack some issues that are identified in these statements that the Apostle makes. And one of them, you recall, was that the Thessalonian believers were now experiencing persecutions…sufferings and afflictions due to the response of their culture to their surrender to Christ and His truths. Their new allegiance to Christ as their only Lord and Savior provoked those who were still captive by the devil in falsehood and immorality. As a result, many hateful people around them lashed out in social and physical attacks against God’s people. So first, let’s look at the passage, and then we’ll begin unpacking it.

2 Thess 1:6-12- “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed. To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” NASU

Here we go again…what a vast amount of revelation in just a few verses! One thing we need to address in order to gain a Biblical perspective on these things is this issue of persecution of God’s people. In other words, what kind of mindset do Christians need to have in order to rightly think about and deal with suffering and persecution in this world? In 1814 the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society chose a seal that would picture their submission to God and their readiness for service, regardless of what they might have to face from those who would not repent. Their seal pictures an Ox standing between a plough and an altar with the words above it: “Ready for Either”. These Christians were declaring to the Lord and to the world that their purpose in life was to serve God in a lost and dying world, whatever the cost. They knew that as they shared the Gospel and God’s truths that there could either be repentance from sinners unto salvation or rejection from sinners and potential persecution. But either way, they were ready for either!

What a great motto for every follower of Christ in every generation until the Lord returns. Plus, it also provides the right perspective, or we should say, the right expectation to carry while living in this broken and condemned world. And why do we say that? Because many believers, and most all the unconverted world, have faulty expectations about how life ought to be in this present world. But if you begin with faulty expectations about how things ought to be, then you will be wholly unprepared to rightly deal with the reality of how life really is while living in this world of trials and tribulations. Rather, what we should expect in this world are – trials and tribulations.

‘Ready for Either’…are you? Take another look at what the possibilities are for us. This is from the account of the ‘heroes of the faith’ chapter of Hebrews 11. In this passage we see two sets of believers with two different experiences. Both are beloved children of God, both are described as faithful believers, with both having the same care and concern of God for them. And yet….let’s look: (First, here’s the service part) Heb 11:32-40- “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; (And now, here’s the sacrifice part)…and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (meaning…completed) NASU

Again, nothing was wrong with the faith of the last group. Nothing was at fault in their lives that brought about these sufferings, nor was there anything at fault with God’s care or compassion in their sufferings. Rather, it clearly demonstrates that this is the harsh reality of the possibilities that God’s people face while living on this present battlefield of Earth. And mark it down: Both groups would experience great victories and great rewards for their battles, but one group experienced great victories during the battles of sufferings, others experienced their great victories after the battles of sufferings. Remember: Our relationship with God does not insulate us from suffering…it assures us of victory!

These believers of Hebrews 11 were ‘ready for either’…and so must we be ‘ready for either.’ But we can only be ‘ready for either’ if we carry the right expectations into the battles of life. Remember: Faulty expectations lead to a faulty faith. So don’t build your faith on your expectations. Build your faith on God’s revelations. Which brings us to the other crucial reality to understand about this present world in order to carry right thoughts about what we are to expect from life in this present world. For example: If you are not expecting pain and suffering from this present world, then you will be undone if or whenever you do experience pain and suffering.

Again, there was nothing deficient about the love and care and compassion of God toward those dear children of His that faced the pain and sufferings described in Hebrews 11. And neither is there any deficiency about the love and care and compassion of our God if and whenever we have to face pain and suffering. In fact, there could never be any deficiency on the part of our God since our God is the perfection of love and the perfection of care and the perfection of compassion in His relationship with each of His children. Meaning that… if, while seeking to live as a follower of Christ in this world, if and whenever we face pain and suffering in this present world and we do not understand what’s happening in the midst of it all, we can be assured that it does not mean that anything is wrong with our faith, nor does it mean that there is anything wrong with the faithfulness of our God. Rather, what is wrong is that this world is presently a world where everything has gone wrong concerning how people choose to treat one another, gone wrong in how filled the physical world is with sickness and disease, gone wrong with how hard it is to live righteously in a world that is sin-bent toward living unrighteously, and basically just all gone wrong in how it was supposed to be.

Which leads us to the most asked question concerning God and this world…and that is this: “Why is there so much pain and suffering in this world?” It is a valid question…and it deserves a valid answer. And yet, we have to realize that often this question is asked with an underlying assumption that because there is so much pain and suffering in this world that there must be something wrong with God, who created this world. That subtle accusation is often just beneath the surface of that question. But that is a very distorted and dangerous thing to even suggest, because if there was anything wrong with our God, then we would have a much greater problem than the problem of pain and suffering. If we had an imperfect and capricious God instead of a perfect and compassionate God, then all mankind would be in much more serious trouble than it is already in! There would be no hope for anyone in this world at all. So, again, when it comes to the question of pain and suffering, the problem is never in our God…in His love or in His care or in His compassion or in His works, rather the problem is always in this sin-filled world.

Unless you know what in the world is wrong with this world, you will most likely stumble in dealing with ‘why’ there is so much pain and suffering in this world. Therefore, as ‘People of the God of love and truth’, one way we can help others who wrestle with this question is by adjusting the question to better deal with the real issue…which is – “What in the world is wrong with this world which has made it become a world where there can be such a thing as so much pain and suffering?” What is the cause of all of this pain and suffering?

That is where the Scriptures start in explaining the answer. Rom 5:12- “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” NASU The presence of sin in the original sinless world that God made became the poison that has brought deathly damage to everything in this world, from the plant and animal kingdoms to the human and environmental kingdoms. The original sinless world became a sin-filled world where it is now filled with sin-filled hearts and sin-filled minds and a sin-filled environment, which all produce the opposite of peace and happiness…but rather pain and suffering. The presence of sin in this world turned the original sinless planet into this present battlefield of Earth. And until a person understands that Earth is presently a ‘Battlefield’, they will never understand why there is so much pain and suffering in this world.

What happens on battlefields? What should you expect to happen on a battlefield? People…whether they be captives of the devil or soldiers of Christ…people on battlefields get hurt in battle. People often ask: Why do bad things happen to good people? On a battlefield, good soldiers can also get shot…get hurt. Therefore, what is to be expected on battlefields is pain and suffering.

Fortunately, for soldiers of Christ, for God’s children, both the battlefield and the sufferings are only in this world…for God is preparing a new world, a sinless world, much like the original sinless world, only far…far better and far more beautiful in every way…a completely wonderful world described like this: “…the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rev 21:3-5 NASU

But until we get to that world, we will still live in this world, where there still is death and mourning and pain and suffering. But for God’s children, although there may be pain and suffering, there is also God’s presence and power and sufficient grace to take us through whatever valley it is that we are going through. And while with some of our individual questions about specific problems that we don’t understand…we will have to quietly wait on that. But the reason we can quietly wait is because God has already given us the loudest answer to any question about His immeasurable love for us…about how much He loves us. Through the Cross of Jesus Christ, our God shouts out to us every day: “This is how much I love you!” And that is the greatest reason for our daily peace and our blessed assurance while temporarily living on this battlefield of Earth.

We’ll unpack some more wonders in our next study in 2 Thessalonians.


Isa 49:13-16- “Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of My hands. Always in My mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.” NLT