And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
Paul's response upon meeting members of the Roman church was meaningful. This was the end of a long journey and the culmination of a desire he had been pursuing for many years. He longed to preach the gospel in Rome. His path to that opportunity was led by God in ways he never would have guessed. But here he was in Rome, thankful to God to have gotten there alive, and encouraged to meet fellow believers.
Paul was encouraged in these circumstances not because of hospitality (he was still the prisoner of Rome with a soldier as his constant guard) nor was it because of any single gift the brothers brought him. Rather, it seems Paul was thankful to God that he was privileged to meet the people for whom he so faithfully prayed, to whom he had written passionately about the gospel (the epistle to the Romans), and now he was able to see God grant this request. He thanked God to be in Rome. It didn't matter how long it had taken, or how limited he was by Roman chains. God had answered his prayers.
Paul was able to see God's provision of an answer, even when things did not go right. He thanked God and praised Him and was encouraged even in the most difficult of circumstances. He did not complain, but instead rejoiced. He did not shrink away in discouragement. Rather, he took courage in the sovereign hand of God and the beauty of Christ's church. What an example of unwavering faith for me, because I tend to lose heart when the least thing does not go my way!