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Worried to Death

Worried to Death

Words of Faith 9-5-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 2

   [12] Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, [13] I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.

 

       Paul's original plans to visit the Church at Corinth had changed. Out of concern for the well-being of the Corinthian church, Paul had sent Titus with a "severe letter" in place of a personal visit. Some had been upset by this change but Paul had clarified that it really was the best response. This letter had indeed accomplished its purpose, but Paul did not know that until he met Titus in Macedonia. The time of waiting on this confirmation was not an easy one for Paul!

       The time between Paul's dispatch of Titus with the letter and his return to report on the state of affairs in the Corinthian church was a turbulent time for Paul. He apparently sensed in an acute way his own helplessness and weakness and came to appreciate afresh how utterly dependent he was on God to accomplish anything of lasting value in his ministry. That theme pervades the next few chapters of the letter.

       Paul had planned to rendezvous with Titus at Troas and be apprised of the Corinthian situation. Before proceeding to Greece, Paul had hoped to minister at Troas in Asia minor, which was a favored Roman colony. The Lord had opened a door for him giving him a favorable opportunity to preach the gospel of Christ. But those hopes were dashed when Titus failed to appear. In addition to his apprehension about the church in Corinth, Paul was now also concerned about Titus' safety.

       Why was Paul so worried? For all Paul knew Titus might have been carrying with him a portion of the proposed Corinthian financial offering and fallen prey to bandits. Why else had he failed to meet Paul in Troas? The possibilities and realities in that time were terribly frightening to consider.

         Paul had no "peace of mind". The Greek here means no "relief in spirit". Had he made the right decision in sending Titus? Had his failure to travel to Corinth spelled out some terrible end for Titus? Today, we might say we are "worried to death" over someone we love who has gone missing.

         And who was Titus? He had accompanied Paul on several of his journeys. He was a Gentile whom Paul referred to as "my true son in our common faith" and "my partner and fellow worker." He was a highly trusted colleague entrusted with a very important church communication, and now he had gone missing!

         It is powerful to hear of such a human response from Paul. This letter is a very human communication! Paul had not yet penned the advice he would eventually give to the Philippians-- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (4:6-7). It is quite possible that Paul's own understanding of those words, the life of prayer and the peace that comes, was being tested and hammered out during these very events!

         In the meantime, Paul was in no shape to minister at Troas. He was a wreck. Troas was a great opportunity for ministry but he was eaten up with worry over the fact that Titus had gone missing. So Paul said goodbye to the church at Troas and pushed on to Macedonia, about 300 miles further around the coast of the Aegean Sea. The door for ministry in Troas would remain open for him and on his return God used him mightily in their midst, but for the moment Paul departed, unable to rise to the occasion, no doubt feeling like a beaten man.

         Paul eventually found Titus in Macedonia, probably at Philippi. It must have been quite a reunion! Titus was headed back along the same route. Later in this letter Paul will write-- "when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus (2 Cor. 7:5-6).

         Like a father who stays up for days worrying about a child lost in the wilderness, the reunion must have been a dramatic one that relieved the conflicts on the outside and the fears within. No doubt, Paul was learning in highly personal and daily ways about how God comforts the downcast.

         What are you learning about prayer and the comfort of God these days? What are you learning about worry? Are you discovering the God who has all things in His control? Are you getting to know the Lord who comforts the downcast and deals with both the conflicts on the outside and the fears within? This is His plan.

         In the bigger picture of these events, it was the agenda of God for Paul to get to know Him better. This certainly is His agenda for us as well.

 

         Father God, I want to know You more. I want to love You more and depend upon You absolutely. Thank You for walking with me through the difficult times when all seems lost. Thank You for walking with me through the conflicts on the outside and the fears within. Give me the peace which transcends all understanding to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.