the Lord Descends from Heaven
Irish author Samuel Beckett
wrote a drama, Waiting for Godot,
about two homeless men waiting on the side of the road for someone
named Godot who was supposed to come and save them from the
meaninglessness of life.
Until he comes, life seems so miserable that they
decide to hang themselves. But having no rope, one of the men takes off
the cord that holds up his pants, which collapse
around his ankles. Testing the cord’s strength, they pull; it
breaks, and both men almost fall. They decide to find a better rope and
try again later.
“We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow,” says Vladimir.
“Unless Godot comes.”
“And if he comes?” asks Estragon.
“We’ll be saved.”
Godot never comes, which means
they’re not saved. They weren’t, of course, supposed to be. Beckett’s
whole point with the drama was to show the absurdity and hopelessness
What a contrast to the view of life presented in the
In particular, what a contrast to the view presented in this quarter’s
lessons, which are on the apostle Paul’s two letters to the
Like Beckett’s two characters, the Thessalonians faced
stresses, strains, struggles, even persecution. In other words, life
for them, as for us, has its hard moments. How easy and understandable
it would have been for them to have fallen into
the pessimism Beckett expressed. Instead, the Thessalonians had a sure
hope, a hope based on Jesus.
This quarter, through Paul’s letters to the
we’ll get a glimpse into the life of an early Christian church—an urban
church—really, and see some of the struggles and challenges that it
faced, including the difficulties that arose from the fact
that Christ had not yet returned!
Fascinating, too, is that however different their circumstances from
our own, so often the principles reflected in Paul’s words to the
Thessalonians deal with the issues and challenges that we, too,
confront as we await—not some mysterious Godot—but the Lord Jesus,
whose death on the cross at the first coming guarantees His return in
glory at the Second.
is dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University in Loma
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