For an introduction to this series, click here.
Paul continues his personal greeting in this chapter, telling them about what he was thinking while he was in Athens:
"Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this." (3:1-3)
Paul's troubles were a concern for the folks in Thessalonica. And even Paul was concerned that they were troubled by his circumstances. What a unique relationship Paul must have had with this church. He could not personally go, but he sent Timothy to encourage them.
Paul next gives Timothy's report:
"But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." (3:6-13, ESV)
This passage gives us a glimpse of Paul's heart. He is thrilled that the folks in Thessalonica have overcome all the opposition and are hanging in there. Paul had a lot on his plate, and one thing he surely didn't need was to hear about how the church had fallen on hard times. This is an encouragement for us to keep the faith, if only to be a blessing to those who have labored to bring us along, whether it be parents or a pastor or teacher.
This also shows us how interconnected the body of Christ really is. We pay lip service to that a lot of times, but when we really see it, it makes a statement that all of the world can see.