It has been a rich blessing to have a number of wonderful saints become close friends. When the wife of one close couple had a life-saving kidney transplant in Nashville, I traveled from Rapid City, South Dakota, to be with them until she was stable. In turn, when I faced a possible life-threatening surgery in Jacksonville, Florida, the husband drove from Illinois to spend several days with us until I was stable. When another friend broke his leg and struggled in recovery, I flew from Orlando to Detroit to spend four days encouraging him. In turn, when I recently had consecutive surgeries on my back, this couple made two trips to Tampa to be with my wife and me. I believe hearts are greatly comforted by acts of love, friendship, and encouragement. I know these dear friends greatly encouraged my heart.
When Paul landed in Italy for his trial, he was then required to travel some 132 miles to Rome, possibly on foot. “And…when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appiforum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage” (Acts 28:15). Just think of this. Some of these saints traveled 38 miles, and others 45 miles, all to encourage Paul as he faced a trial in Rome that could have cost him his life. This wasn’t an easy air-conditioned car ride on an interstate. Whether by foot or riding on horseback, this would have taken a good deal of time, sacrifice, and effort. While Paul was a brave and courageous man, he also seemed to have some measure of anxiety about what lay ahead for him. While conflict followed him everywhere, it was not something he enjoyed. It was just unavoidable as a soldier of Christ. Perhaps he had this on his mind when he wrote, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). But how wonderful that, in this instance, on his difficult road to Rome, Christians came to bolster him with love and encouragement. It is also of note that Paul felt discouragement later when “… no man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (II Timothy 4:16).
You, too, may one day travel a difficult road on which you would greatly benefit by other believers coming to stand by your side. Until then, “pay it forward” by being ready to be there when someone needs you.
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