Arrested on false charges. Attacked by a violent mob. Imprisoned for two years. Shipwrecked following a violent two-week-storm. That’s a sampling of all Paul experienced, recorded in Acts 21 – 28. My list hardly rivals Paul’s, but I identify with the relentless accumulation of stress. What would it take to cheer Paul after all these troubles?
Luke writes, “The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” (Acts 28:15)
Some Roman Christians traveled thirty or forty miles to welcome Paul. That’s all it took to cheer him up.
I picture an old fashioned balance scale. One side holds all the adversities Paul had encountered. The other side holds this simple act of welcome and friendship. Though not logical or mathematical, the scales balance.
I can attest to the truth of this balancing act, having both given and received encouragement in ordinary ways: a prayer, a hug, a ripe tomato from a friend’s garden, a handful of Hershey’s kisses.
We may not be able to do great things for each other, like solve financial or medical or family crises, but we may all encourage each other greatly with small things.