How can we thank God enough for you… ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:9
It was 1972. The Vietnam war was still raging. Richard Nixon was president. And scientists at NASA were working on an idea: Could they build and launch a probe that would survive a trip to Jupiter? And if it managed to get there, could it take close-up pictures of that massive planet and send them back to Earth?
Some members of the NASA team thought the mission was hopeless. The distance between the Earth and Jupiter was 400 million miles. And throughout those hundreds of millions of miles were all types of potential hazards, from space dust to asteroid belts. Nevertheless, they forged ahead and gave it a try. They named the probe, Pioneer 10, and launched it into space.
To the shock of some and the exhilaration of all, Pioneer 10 performed brilliantly. Over the next 21 months, the modest, little space probe flew to Jupiter, took 500 pictures, and sent them back to Earth. Then this tiny craft began to do the unexpected. After its 21 month mission was done, Pioneer 10 kept going.
In 1976 it passed by Saturn, sending back pictures as it did. In 1979 it passed by Uranus, doing the same thing. In 1983 it performed its magic on Pluto and then Neptune. And then Pioneer 10 accomplished the unthinkable. It left our solar system and set out for deep space, sending back valuable information along the way. Even when the 21st Century arrived, little Pioneer 10 was still at work, quietly carrying out what its team in 1972 had designed it to do.
In the selection of God’s Word for us today, we read how the apostle Paul asked the Christians in Thessalonica, “How can we thank God enough for you?” Paul said this because the Lord had empowered the Thessalonian Christians to carry out the spiritual equivalent of a Pioneer 10. They had humble beginnings as a congregation. They were facing a lot of temptations and obstacles. But Paul had recently learned that, through it all, the Thessalonians had persevered. And this simple fact had meant everything to Paul.
As you battle the daily temptations and obstacles that come to you as a Christian, never forget what this means to your fellow believers. And never forget what this means to your Savior. You are a living example of the Lord’s gospel promise of full forgiveness which empowers you to keep your eyes fixed on him. There’s nothing more important. And nothing more beautiful.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have washed my sins away in your blood. You have covered me in the blanket of your perfection. Fill me with thanks. Empower me to persevere in my walk with you. Amen.