By Kendalle Cobb
Epaphroditus, why was he the one to get sent to help Paul? And then, why did he get sick and almost die? And why does Paul have to justify to the Philippians why this man that almost died is coming home? If I were Paul, I would feel bad that I needed help and then I would feel guilty that this guy, Epaphroditus, who the Philippians sent to help me, almost died while with me. I remember my first year of college, having returned back to school from break, and getting really sick in January during reading period. It is bad enough to be sick, but to be sick when one is far away from home is even worse. Who is going to take care of you? I am sure Paul did his best, but it was not like being at home.
Have you ever tried to go to work when you are sick? Not a good idea. So, I feel for Epaphroditus. He just wants to go home and get some rest, but it seems that Paul is trying to protect him, trying to put a positive spin on things, reassuring the people that the best thing for Paul is for Epaphroditus to go home. “He survived, but I don’t want to press my luck. Thanks for the help. I can take it from here,” Paul probably wants to say.
I feel bad for Epaphroditus. Can you imagine having traveled to help Paul, getting sick, and almost dying? You know that there was someone back home who said, “Epaphroditus, you weren’t finished with your work. Paul still needs you.” It is sort of like Lucy talking to Charlie Brown when he gets the Christmas tree. “Can’t you do anything right?” This Lenten season, may we be reminded that even Jesus took some time to rest. Even Jesus wanted a break when the road got rough. We can always go home to God, and God will not ask, “What are you doing here?” Rather, God will say, “Welcome home, and thanks for carrying some of the load.”
Loving and merciful God, help us to remember that we do not have to give of ourselves until we are spent or sick or feeling like we have nothing left to give. It is okay to go home and rest in you, and you will not judge us.