Help in the midst of life
Paul gives us a glimpse of the life of a man of God. He talks about Timothy who is working very hard with him to share the Gospel with people. He really wanted to send Timothy to Philippi, but waited until things had cooled down a bit. He himself longed to return to his friends and flock. You can see into Paul’s heart how he really cared for these people and tried everything to help them – despite the fact that he was in prison himself.
Then Paul tells the story of Epaphroditus. The congregation had indeed sent him to Paul to help in the time of crisis, but then life happened and he fell ill. So ill that he nearly died.
25But for right now, I’m dispatching Epaphroditus, my good friend and companion in my work. You sent him to help me out; now I’m sending him to help you out. 26He has been wanting in the worst way to get back with you. 27Especially since recovering from the illness you heard about, he’s been wanting to get back and reassure you that he is just fine. He nearly died, as you know, but God had mercy on him. And not only on him—he had mercy on me, too. His death would have been one huge grief piled on top of all the others. 28So you can see why I’m so delighted to send him on to you. When you see him again, hale and hearty, how you’ll rejoice and how relieved I’ll be. Give him a grand welcome, a joyful embrace!
Someone once said: Life happens when you are making other plans. This is exactly what happened to Paul and his friends. Normal things, like love, caring, reaching out, help, support, illness, sadness and even almost death come knocking on their door. But these things do not hold them back. They do not lie down, covering themselves in sackcloth and ashes. They don’t throw their toys out of the cot when things don’t work out as they thought it should. No, they push forward with passion and pull out all the stops to share the Gospel with the people. They make big plans to do what they had been called to do, despite of life happening.
I hang my head in shame, because as soon as I encounter a small bump, as soon as money becomes a problem, as soon as illness drops in, as soon as a relationship is under pressure, as soon as things don’t work out the way I wanted them to, my first two words are: Why Lord? And following on their heels: Why me? Why not someone else? Lord! Lord, can You hear me? And soon I’m talking in bold followed by lots and lots of question marks.
In the normal struggle with life God’s concern shines through: but God had mercy on him … as soon as life gets hard, we think God no longer hears us. It feels as if He is just not there. As if we have done too much wrong and God has turned his back on us.
Not true. God never forgets us and if necessary, He will even make a miracle happen to let his plan come to completion through us. We must never forget that. Make it part of your life: God will never forget you. He loves you too much.
My heart is heavy for a pal of mine. Due to unforeseen circumstances he was forced to make his son change schools in his second-to-last year of school. And they’re struggling. I wrote to him:
Yes, God allows life to take its course with us amidst our own decisions. I believe one needs a breakdown to get a breakthrough. No, it’s not easy, but I have the naïve belief that God will let it work out for the best. He’s really good with things like that! I want to say to you: Watch this space! May you look back after a year or two and see …
Amidst (or despite) life God still remains involved. I believe that like a child (and sometimes this is all I have to hold onto). God will never forget me, never forget my pal, never forget you.
What questions do you ask when life gets hard?
Do you sometimes look for God too?
Do you sometimes feel alone?
Lord, our plans do not always work out the way we want them to. Please help us trust in You so that we are not discouraged by our circumstances. You are always in control and You know best. You will never leave us alone. May this knowledge help us to remain steadfast. Amen