The God Who Is Behind the Care
The Apostle Paul was a very great Christian indeed. He was also very human, a fact that is memorably brought home to us in a story that comes from his own pen. Writing to the church in Corinth he says, ‘When we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within’ (2 Cor. 7:5). Isn’t that refreshingly honest? Great Christian and apostle as he was, Paul found himself afraid and downcast when he came into Macedonia. Listen, however, to what he goes on to say: ‘But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus’ (verse 6).
Earlier in his letter Paul had referred to God as ‘the God of all comfort’ (2 Cor. 1:3). It was in that very character that he came to Paul in Macedonia – gently lifting his servant’s spirits, relieving him of his anxieties and fears, restoring to him his joy. And here is how he did it: through the arrival of Paul’s friend Titus. Just seeing him again and knowing that he was well and having the pleasure of his Christian company once more was such a comfort to Paul.
It is something that in a variety of ways we have all experienced. God has comforted us in times of need and has done so through our fellow Christians. They have visited us, or prayed with us, or read the Scriptures to us, or relieved us of some pressing responsibility, or met some financial need that we had, or taken us out for the afternoon, or diverted our minds from our problems, or made us laugh. And how it has helped us! Our courage has been renewed. We have been helped to see things more clearly. Our fears have been calmed. Strength has been given to us for another day.
What are we to see in that? The very thing that Paul saw – the God of all comfort, who knows our needs perfectly, and who cares for us deeply, coming most lovingly to our aid. And just as in the case of Paul, through a fellow Christian. He or she has been the instrument, without perhaps even realising it, by whom the Lord himself has ministered to our needs.
It’s an insight that’s to shape our response. We thank our Christian friends for their kindness to us and the help that they have been. But we don’t stop there. We see that lying back of their care is the infinitely greater care of our God. So we lift our hearts to him – as doubtless Paul did. We thank him for dear fellow Christians and for the love that they have shown us. We thank him for the help they have been to us. But above all we thank him for his own love. For that is the fountain from which all our comforts flow. It is ultimately because he cares for us that we belong to the loving family of God that we do.
David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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