Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (ESV)
Perhaps you are familiar with the quote from the movie Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility." I believe that with the Apostle Paul one could say about his life "With great spiritual influence comes great suffering." Like his Savior, Paul was well acquainted with grief. Epaphroditus, who was sent from Philippi to be a blessing to Paul became sick and nearly died. Paul recognizes that if Epaphroditus had died it would have been "sorrow upon sorrow."
I am thankful that the Lord knows what we are going through and he sovereignly chooses to give us more than we can handle, yet not more than he can help us to handle. We see in this verse Paul recognizing the mercy of God. If God had taken Epaphroditus home to heaven Paul would have survived. God was capable of providing for him. But God showed mercy to Paul.
We often struggle in this life. At times it seems to our earthly point of view to be needless and senseless. We know that for the life of the believer, however, that this is not the case. Every struggle, every pain, every sorrow is only allowed by the sovereign God who uses all things for our ultimate good and his ultimate glory.
You are likely struggling in some area today. I am as well. Together, we need to look to our Heavenly Father, acknowledging that he has a purpose for everything that we experience. The reality is, his mercy has kept us from certain troubles that we will never even realize until we are in his perfect presence.
Thank the Lord today for his mercy, even in the midst of struggle. Respond to your pain with praise. The Lord loves you and will work in your situation for his glory and your good, even if it does not feel good.