Surrounded

I grew up watching westerns at the movie-house. When I was a kid you could go for a dime. In some of those films the wagons would be encircled to create a kind of wall behind which the cowboys could find protection.  They would stand and shoot their guns shielded by canvas and boards as long as the horses of the enemy did not break through.

The following words turned up at the end of the tip of the Apostle Paul’s stylus.  “We were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5 NASB95).  Sometimes this phrase comes to my mind when one difficulty follows another until the troubles build up into a blur of blah and the quagmire is like quicksand.  Ever feel that way?  But Paul finds solace.  “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us” (2 Corinthians 7:6a).  I bet you’ll never guess how the comfort got there.  

It came from Titus.  “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the arrival of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 7:6a+b).  I have discovered this to be a truth.  Comfort is materialized into matter when a friend shows up, or calls, or sends a Marco Polo — or whatever way you communicate today.  It is as if a phantom takes bodily form and chases the blues away.  

But there is more: “and not only by his arrival but also by the comfort he received from you. He told us about your deep longing, your sorrow, and your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Corinthians 7:7).  Paul was impacted in two ways: what Titus said and how he could say it.  He shared with Paul the very words he longed to hear.  Paul was concerned that he had caused sorrow in Corinth and Titus reported that it turned out that they had received his words as they were intended — to help them.  I can identify with this.  I have been known to sometimes get in a funky state of mind and begin to doubt that what I have done with good intent has fallen on anything other than deaf ears.  There is no truth to this kind of thinking!  There is no resemblance to reality to this conclusion.  The lack of information is just that — the lack of information.  Anything more is my imagination until I remind myself of this clear view of reality; or until someone like Titus comes along.  

I know from talking to people through the years who happened to be fighting the blues at the time of our conversations, that this happens pretty regularly with people in general.  So remind yourself that no information is just that — no information.  And to chase away your friend’s doubts, be Titus!  Let people hear about the good they are doing.  Circle up the wagons and send word about the people benefitting from his efforts.  Surround her with horses of a different color than blue. So we can end out saying with Paul, “I now rejoice….” (2 Corinthians 7:9).

Stephen Williams

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