In a recent interview for Adventist Today, Carl Wilkens shared how he sees God acting in the world to care for his kids. “When you stop and ask, ‘How did God provide for me? How did God protect me? How was God with me?’ you start to see this truth that we’ve known all along: God’s primary way of intervening on this planet is through people.”
Shortly after that conversation, I came across an example of this in the life of Paul. In a letter to the community in Corinth, Paul shares his troubled emotions. “For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Cor. 7:5-7; emphasis added). God could have comforted Paul by sending angels or by supernaturally giving him deep peace within; however, God chose a fellow human—Titus and the friends who sent word via Titus—to support Paul.
God certainly does act directly at times, but it is generally when humans have failed to play their part, or are simply unable for whatever reason. Carl shared how Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane is an example of this last resort. Jesus wanted his friends to be with him in his dark hour, but only when they failed to support him did God send angels to do the job.
This methodology of providing comfort and compassion through fellow humans was also highlighted by Ellen White. She wrote: “God designs that the sick, the unfortunate, those possessed of evil spirits, shall hear His voice through us. Through His human agents He desires to be a comforter, such as the world has never before seen. His words are to be voiced by His followers: ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me’” (Welfare Ministry, p. 22).
Who has God used to encourage me? Who might God want to comfort through me today?