For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. (2 Cor. 7:5-6) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:11)Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
Gracious Father, the incidental pictures in the Scriptures are often as profound as the intentional promises. This story of a worn out Paul tasting fresh comfort through the care of a good friend is so encouraging. Thank you, Father, for reminding me even your most faithful servants—those who know you the best, those whose grasp of the gospel is a zillion times better than mine—even these men and women experience restlessness, fear, and weariness.
At times I still labor under the myth of omni-competence and I end up “should-ing” all over myself. If I just prayed enough, believed enough, or was filled with the Spirit enough, I’d never get discouraged or downcast; weary or worried; fed up or worn out. What a groundless lie, unbearable burden and distortion of true spirituality. The gospel makes us truly human, not super-human.
Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast, discouraged or even despairing. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us—you comfort us; for you’re “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Thank you for commanding us to cast our cares on you (1 Pet. 5:7), not to swallow them or pretend like we don’t have any. Thank you for never telling us “buck up” or “get over it.”
And thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you regularly comfort us through your Word, or even in our sleep, quite often you send a Titus or a Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) to a Paul. You love to tell your story through your people. Thank you for well timed emails, visits, hugs, calls, texts—for the friends, family, even angels, you send us. But Father, above all, thank you for the ultimate comfort you’ve given to us by giving Jesus for us. One burden I don’t bear today, or forever, is the weight of my guilt and sin. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!
This very day, help me be honest about my limitations and vulnerable enough to allow others to care for me. And make me sensitive to the needs of others around me today—those up close to me, and those afar. In my weakness I may be more good to them than when I feel “on top of my game.” Who needs a word of comfort from another weary traveler? Show me, Father. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ compassionate name.