We've been doing this for a while, so we're up to 1 and 2 Thessalonians, when I came across this fun little section in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.
Paul is teaching about the last days, the main theme in both of his letters to the Thessalonians. He's trying to calm down those who were afraid they had missed the big day of Jesus. Wouldn't you be? But check out how Paul 'encourages' them.
Jesus isn't coming until...
Until what? Until things get worse,...much, much worse. There's a man of lawlessness. Yeah, he's going to cause a big heap of problems. So, Thessalonians, don't be worried you've missed it. You'll know it's coming when you see all sorts of evil being enacted that you never even dreamed would happen. Sounds like a lot of fun.
It's going to get worse. Feel better? You should, because that is also when things will get better.
Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming. ~2 Thessalonians 2:8.
Oh yeah, we win! In case you forget, when the weeks get long, and the community less than encouraging, we are on the winning side. When you begin to wonder why we do what we do, we're playing for the victor. That shouldn't be confused with the idea that we're playing to win, as if victory is somehow undecided yet.
Ministry will never be easy. I don't believe that it should be. But I find my ability to forge ahead often rests in my ability to see the big picture. It will get worse. But it will also get better.