“Make room for us in your hearts” (2 Corinthians 7:2). Paul writes this toward the beginning of Chapter 7 of 2 Corinthians, and I just love it. First, a bit of context. It would never have occurred to me that some may not have welcomed Paul upon his arrival in Macedonia, where the Corinthian church was located. But many did not! In fact, Paul tells us, “Even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn – fighting without and fear within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). Paul and his companions were tired and troubled. Can you relate? I know I can.
It’s interesting to note how Paul responds when he is exhausted and stressed. First, he knows the source of his comfort: God. Next, Paul explains the means by which God comforted him: “(God) comforted us by the arrival of Titus”. Knowing Paul was stretched thin personally and professionally, God sent a brother in the faith to encourage him. Take a minute to think about when God has sent someone to you at a time when you really needed encouragement. I remember when I was going through a difficult time, my college roommate arrived on my doorstep – uninvited, after driving for an hour in the middle of a New England winter! And this was before cell phones – so she wasn’t even sure I’d be home! But she showed up. She listened. She encouraged me. She made me laugh. And when she left for work the next morning, I felt comforted. God sent her to me, knowing I needed encouragement.
Did you think of someone who encouraged you? Perhaps you might call or send them a quick text thanking them for comforting you.
Paul also notes that Titus himself was encouraged by the Corinthian people. The very people who Paul was ministering to encouraged the person sent to comfort Paul! Listen to what Paul writes: “And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” (2 Corinthians 7:13) Could my friend possibly have been encouraged by me as well, as Titus was by the Corinthians? I’m not sure – I certainly was more focused on receiving than giving comfort at that time in my life. But maybe I did encourage her in some way, and maybe someone who encouraged you also received comfort from you, or those around you, at the same time.
Finally, Paul notes that he himself was encouraged when the Corinthian people encouraged Titus. Paul writes, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you…so that I rejoiced still more.” (2 Corinthians 7:6-7) What a full-circle idea! Paul is troubled and tired. God sends Titus to encourage Paul. The Corinthians encourage Titus, and this fact also encourages Paul. Amazing!
How can we apply this to our own lives? First, we must look for ways that God wants to use us to comfort and encourage others. And when He calls us to do so, we must respond. Second – and this is perhaps even more difficult – we must be open to receiving comfort and encouragement. So many of us – me included – have a difficult time asking for help, or receiving it when it is offered. Perhaps if we consider the help a divine intervention from God, we will be more ready and willing to accept it, and allow ourselves to be refreshed.