Jump Start # 2660
2 Corinthians 7:5 “For even when we came in Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side; conflicts without, fears within.”
The apostle Paul had wanted to go to Asia to preach. God wouldn’t allow that. God had other plans. There was a vision of a man from Macedonia calling for Paul to come. He went. Great things were done. But even in all this, Paul had afflictions. Inside were fears. Outside were conflicts. The next verse shows the toll that this had on Paul. God comforts the depressed. In implication is that Paul was depressed. These troubles were troubling his soul. Shots were being fired at Paul’s character. Drive-by-verbal shootings had wounded Paul. He’d been hit. He was down. He was hurting.
And, that expression, “conflicts without and fears within,” can well describe the state that we are currently in. Things are just not right. Things are not the way we’d like them to be. How many are falling through the cracks? When will things ever be back to what they once were? Conflicts on the outside and fears on the inside. No rest. No peace. Unsettled moments. Unsettled times. Enough shaking of our soul has a way of unhinging us from the things that are dear to us. People get tired of trouble. People do not like to be miserable. And, just as Satan sifted Peter, that ole’ serpent may be sifting us right now.
But there are some things that we need to see:
First, Paul was not the only one experiencing these trials and tribulations. Contextually Paul uses the word “we” twice and “our” once. Paul wasn’t alone in this. Others were going through this. That may not lessen the worries or the pain, but it has a way of connecting us with others. Hold on to each other’s hands. We are in this together. Fellowship, even in pain and darkness has a way of helping.
Second, the Lord was still there. God did not abandon Paul during this time. The next verse reminds us of this. It says, “But God who comforts the depressed, comforted us…” God comforted us. God had not forgotten them. God had not wished them well and said, “I’ll see you on the other side.” Not our God. He’s not like that. Not only was God aware of Paul’s turmoil, God sent the remedy. God knew just what would work. You and I would probably think of getting away. A vacation would help things, is how we’d think. But that wasn’t the way the Lord thought. He had a better way. He didn’t remove the problem. That’s the way we pray. We want problems to go away. The storm rages on. The fires of the furnace still burn. The lions still roam about in their den. God doesn’t keep us from these things. But what He does is send the help that we need.
Third, God sent Titus. That’s the solution. That’s the help. You and I might think, “Not Titus. Get us out of this problem.” But here comes Titus. Heaven sent. Young. Passionate. Eager. Hopeful. And, a breath of fresh air. His presence was what it took. He was God’s answer to Paul’s problems. God didn’t send a miracle. God didn’t send an angel. God didn’t take the problems away. God didn’t smooth everything out for Paul. But what God did, was send Titus.
And, I wonder how many times there is sitting among us a Titus—God’s answer for us. An encouragement. A breath of fresh air. Younger than we are. Hopeful. Optimistic. Encouraging. And, we pray and pray and pray and there among us is the answer and we fail to see it. We want the problems to vanish, but they remain. We want answers that are quick, visible and absolute. And, there stands Titus. The young encouraging the older. The inexperienced helping the aged apostle. He may not have understood the complexity of Paul’s problems. He may have never gone through those things himself. But he was Heaven’s answer. He was God’s comfort.
Fourth, to get God’s help, Paul had to allow Titus into his life. Had the apostle ignored Titus or brushed him off because he was young and wouldn’t understand, Paul’s depression would have grown darker and deeper. Now, here’s a thought. You and I get the blues. We get discouraged. We get down. And, when we are this way, we too often use that as a reason for staying home. We don’t go to worship. And, what happens is that we miss Titus. He’s there. He’s there to help but he can’t because we are not there. Then we wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers. Our spirit sinks deeper and deeper into the hole of depression. We wonder if we will ever crawl out. And, our faith takes a hit. We’ve prayed and prayed, and it seems like God is ignoring us. We think the worse. We believe God has something against us. And, all along, a Titus has been waiting for us. He’s there. He’s God’s answer to what we need. But we don’t see it. We are looking for something else.
Finally, problems come and go, but God remains. The troubles that Paul faced are all gone today. Paul is resting in the arms of the Lord, free from all the things that hurt his soul. And, so it will be for us. Problems do not cross through the doorway of death. They remain on this side of life. There won’t be money troubles on the other side. There won’t be health issues on the other side. People that are bugging you, won’t be able to do that on the other side. The problems end but we go on. This is why hanging on to the Lord is so important. What bothers you now, will someday pass. But in eternity all that will matter is whether I am with the Lord or not.
Paul wasn’t doing too well in our verse. Insides and outsides were being hammered. Yet, God sent relief. God sent help. These things are the very things that can remind us and help us on our journey.