“You will make it!” I said to my daughter with tears in my eyes as we descended the mountain after summiting its peak. The original euphoria we had of reaching the highest point on the range was quickly broken just five hundred feet from the top, when she slipped on a rock and severely twisted her ankle. With at least four more miles of hiking in front of us, and significant pain radiating through her leg, we both wondered if she could make it down the mountain. And yet, we knew we would. We had to. It was the only thing we could do.
Living in this world as followers of Jesus is difficult. Not only do we face the obstacles of our own sinfulness, but when you add to it the fragility of life and the temptations and trials of this world, you have to ask yourself if you are going to make it. I imagine that the Thessalonian church receiving this little letter from Paul would be asking the same thing, especially after being told of the coming judgment of God upon those who do not “accept the love of the truth [in order to] be saved” (2Thessalonians 2:10).
The Holy Spirit wants to give us assurance and confidence that, yes, we will make it. But it won’t be because we white-knuckled our way to our salvation. It won’t be because we were strong enough to get there on our own two feet. God Himself is the one who will bring everyone who trusts in Jesus home. Paul is confident-—even so much to thank God in that moment—that they will make it home. Why is that the case? Because of the loving, choosing, calling, sanctifying power of God “that [they] might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thessalonians 2:14). They have trusted in the God of their salvation—therefore, they will make it.
Brother, if that’s true, that you and I will make it to glory by the power of God, then what we are called to in this life is faithful perseverance. That’s precisely why we can “stand firm.” Paul doesn’t tell the Thessalonian believers to stand firm so that they make it to the end. He tells them that God will get them to the end, and because of this, they will be encouraged to keep going. “We have confidence in the Lord about you,” he assures them, “that you are doing and will continue to do what we command” (2Thessalonians 3:4).
We can stand against evil, stand against our sinful flesh, and we can be confident we will get home, not because we’re so unbelievably strong, but because “from the beginning God has chosen [us] for salvation” (2Thessalonians 2:13). So, keep going! Keep trusting and praying and working to see the Word of God spread rapidly. The Lord is faithful. You will make it, and He will do it.