Summary: What can you expect if you decided to follow Jesus?

17As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20Yes, you are our glory and joy! 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 (NRSV)

Paul had plenty of troubles. In the journal account of some of the missionary endeavors in which he participated, you read that he almost drowned in a shipwreck; he was beaten and left for dead, and he faced strong opposition wherever he went. Paul even had trouble seeing enough to read his own handwriting. An Army chaplain had a sign on his door that read:

If you have troubles, come in and tell me all about them.

If you don’t have troubles, come in and tell me how you do it! [1]

Not many people I know fall into that second group! There are, however, Christians who have more than their share of the load to carry, yet they seem happiest and most willing to help others shoulder their burdens. These folks are the ones who have learned the “Jesus secret” of a lifestyle of loving others. Here’s the way Jesus put it:

39Those who find their life will lose it,

and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:39 (NRSV)

When you spend all your time on yourself you eventually find out there’s not much of a life in self. When you lose your thoughts, your desires, your rights in the process of helping others in Jesus’ name, you find a life that surpasses all the things you thought you wanted. We will see that as we look at the life of Paul and his relationship to the church folks at Thessalonica. We will see what you can expect when your lifestyle is built on loving others, as you invest yourself in others’ lives by serving them in Jesus’ name.

I. Expect Heartache brought on by Circumstances

17As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.

Paul had a great love for the folks at Thessalonica. He had personally won many of them to faith in Christ. He had a great desire to see them. Due to some circumstances which are unclear to us, Paul was not able to go there; he missed them intensely. There are times when the circumstances of life throw us a curve; all the things we wanted to do, planned to do, are put on hold; heartache becomes our newest “best friend”.

Mr. Holland's Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s. Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.

At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students. But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream.

At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job. The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama program. No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education. What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people. Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation. He has taught his final class. With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes. His wife and son arrive to give him a hand.

As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium. Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is. To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads "Goodbye, Mr. Holland." Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.

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