Over the last few months, I have heard story after story from people who should be dead but are alive, literally because of the grace of God. Each of them knows the Lord spared their lives from a spiral of destruction. God took their shame and gave them joy. God took their isolation and gave them His Body. God brought their darkness into the light.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul thanks the church for their faith, labor, and endurance. He wrote a similar sentiment for the people of Colossae and Ephesus. Paul is a thankful guy. We get it. But I have been slightly obsessed with what Paul specifically says about the Thessalonians in verses 9-10: “…how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven.”
That one action made all the difference to Paul: their decision to turn. What were their idols? Probably not any different than my own or the ones found within these pages—lust, drugs, approval, success, alcohol, greed. The specifics don't matter. Paul had hope because he witnessed God uproot their hearts and replace their false gods with hope, trust, and love in Jesus. Paul watched his friends literally turn from death to life. What a privilege Paul had to not only be part of that but more importantly experience God's redemption in his own life. God wants to do the same in yours and mine.
I pray we get to experience more and more people turn from idols to serve God as we share the hope He offers each of us: freedom from ourselves. Though the process is painful, His comfort is truly more than enough to endure what we must (2 Cor. 1). Without a crucifixion, there cannot be a resurrection. And, we can hope in that.