Agents of Grace
Robert Wurtz II
For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
(2 Corinthians 7:5–6 NKJV)
There are times when it seems that trouble is a relentless stalker of the saints. Paul encountered it on every side; from the “beasts” at Ephesus (As he called them. People who were bent on destroying the work of God); to carnal believers who left the Corinthian church in a terrible state. Indeed, Satan was waging war on the two fronts of body and mind. The accumulated impact was tremendous.
Paul used the plural pronouns “we,” “our,” and “us” indicating it was affecting him and the saints who were with him. They were “downcast” — a word that in the Greek (tapeinos) means to be depressed or brought low because of grief or circumstances. It could be translated as “humiliated” since the verb form of the word means to exploit, oppress, or to break the spirit of a person. (TDNT)
We generally think of Paul as a giant of a man who never had any weaknesses. What then do we do with these sobering words, “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” Later in the epistle he adds, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians 11:29 NKJV) For those who think of Paul as a biblical super-hero these passages are a bit disillusioning. Paul felt fear and he felt indignation. There is no sin in these emotions in their proper context.
It’s easy to think of God as one who looks on in heaven observing all of our sins and mistakes. However, God is a compassionate Father who is watching us bowed down under the load of difficult times. He runs to the cry of His beloved children. Sometimes through a spiritual touch, sometimes through a special word from Him, and other times in the form of a faithful fellow believer. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
Agents of Grace
Sometimes we need an inward touch. Sometimes we need a fresh word from God. Yet in particularly difficult times we often need that human touch… a person who comes to us, as the old-timers used to say, “on business for the King.” God’s ambassadors clothed in flesh and blood. God had seen Paul and his friends’ situation and circumstances from eternity past and arranged events in such a way that comfort came at the appointed time. Praise God. Bless His holy name. Just when we may be at a breaking point God graces us with a brother or sister in the Lord. Paul recognized the coming of Titus — not as a coincidence — but as Divine providence. No doubt his heart was lifted at the sight of this dear brother… knowing that he didn’t just show up, but had been sent. What an awesome thing to consider and appreciate in the moment.