This morning I was reading a section of 2 Corinthians. I love 2 Corinthians 5 and the section on 'the ministry of reconciliation'. And 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 got me thinking about the church and its relationship to Israel again. But it was 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 that I saw in a fresh light.
Paul reminds us that God provides comfort to the downtrodden, downcast, and discouraged. That's a truth we hold dearly when we grieve, mourn, struggle with sadness. We pray often that God would comfort others in the midst of loss or sorrow.
But does God offer his comfort directly to the soul of the downcast? Certainly he can, but in 2 Corinthians 7 the comfort comes to Paul through another, namely Titus. Titus came to Paul, and this coming was comfort to Paul; in fact, he counted it as God's comfort. Moreover, the comfort Titus extended to Paul was, in part at least, the encouragement that he was loved by the church at Corinth.
The application is simple, but important. When we pray that God will comfort others, we should be ready to extend God's comfort to them. Speak of God's promises. Extend God's love and presence by our love and presence.
And this principles extends to so many areas. We pray that someone will come to faith in Christ, and while its possible that God will send an angel to proclaim the gospel directly to the person, it is far more likely that God is calling us to be his mouthpiece to extend the outward gospel call to the person we pray for. Or, we pray that someone will see the error of their ways and come to make more wise decision; and it's likely God is calling us to speak truth in love. We pray that God will meet the financial needs of someone we are close to; and it's likely that God is calling us to be generous and be a part of God meeting that need.
That's what it means to be God's instruments, God's vessels, God's ministers...God's people.