For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
2 Corinthians 7:5-7 (NIV)
Read: 2 Corinthians 7
Consider: In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul admits that when he went to Macedonia he faced external opposition to the message he was sharing. Interestingly he also mentions that he had ‘fears within’. I’m sure Paul was well versed in the Old Testament scriptures and would have known the words of Isaiah 26:3 which say –
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Let’s be honest. If Paul could have inner fears and concerns about his work in Macedonia, why is it that we can often feel guilty when we experience the same fears and concerns about things that are happening in our lives?
Some people give the impression that when you become a Christian, suddenly life takes on a different hue where either you won’t have any problems, or if you do then you won’t have negative thoughts about them – you will be able to rise above them. While there is certainly an element of truth in this, it isn’t the complete truth. If it were, Paul would have no business having his ‘fears within’. Take encouragement from the fact that the Apostle Paul was just as human as you and me.
The second thing to notice in the passage from 2 Corinthians 7 is that Paul was encouraged by other human beings. Titus proved to be a great encouragement to him, but also the news that Titus brought that the Corinthian believers were concerned for Paul’s welfare. We all need encouragement from others, so be open to receiving this from those around you. Also we should be prepared to be encouragers for those who are facing problems. Life isn’t always smooth, even for the most committed of Christians.
Pray: Father, forgive us for having a skewed view of the Christian life that expects everything to run smoothly. Help us to be honest when we are facing difficulties and to accept others’ encouragement. May we be encouragers to others as well. Amen