Verse: Philippians 2:25-30
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
This is a practical part of Paul’s letter, and as such, I find it really comforting. It shows such a human side of Paul, as he admits his attachment to Epaphroditus. He talks about the practical need to send him home, in order to put his own mind at ease. I wonder if Epaphroditus felt like he had failed because he got sick, and consequently had to be taken care of. I could sympathize with that. He was sent to be a help to Paul and ended up needing the help.
But Paul expresses such a regard for him, not as a burden, but as a “fellow soldier” and brother. Someone who worked beside him and was an encouragement.
These kinds of disruptive things happen, and no one is at fault, but for some ridiculous reason we can feel guilty about it anyway. This is such a good reminder that not everything goes as planned, and that is not something that should be regarded as failure. Sometimes we need someone else to give us a fresh perspective, a healthier view of the situation. Maybe Paul was that fresh set of eyes for Epaphroditus.
Lord, help us to let go of our illusion of control and trust you, when all is going smoothly, and also when things don’t go as planned. You are the one in control. Thank you for being so trustworthy!