17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. 19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
“You don’t always get what you want.” The reason for Paul’s letter (and I believe the majority of his letters) is because he cannot be there in person. The hindrance he mentions is likely a basis on why they had to leave in the first place, as I mentioned in the beginning of the study of this letter.
“But you know sometimes, you get what you need!” Paul’s explanation of the members of the Thessalonian church being his reward (crown of exultation) is in reference to a common theme throughout the New Testament. These are the rewards we stack up in heaven by planting the seed of the Gospel in others. Notice I didn’t say “converting” or “convincing” other, just planting the seed.
They are joyful for the church’s inception and their pursuance of God’s calling on their lives, that they’ve stuck it out through the trials and continue to thrive. Doesn’t this bring joy to anyone when it relates to some they care about? So then, what do we find joy in?
Do we find joy in the here and the now? I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, however it is short lived. We get a quick buzz but then it fades. The joy here that Paul is talking about is eternal joy. It is a forever lasting and enduring joy that cannot be extinguished. It is the kind of joy we sing about at Christmas. It is the joy God feels when we seek Him out and search for His purpose for our lives.
What kind of joy do you have today?