Summary: This passage shares the encouraging truth that "God . . . comforts the downcast." It also points out one of the major ways that He does that: through the people He's put around us.
DOES GOD CARE ABOUT THE DOWNCAST? He cares enough that He has put the answer all around us.
- 2 Corinthians 7:6 – “God . . . comforts the downcast”
- We doubt. We feel discouraged and downcast and we wonder if God cares.
- And this is a big deal because there are so many today who struggle with depression and discouragement.
- This passage has good news in that simple statement in v. 6: “God comforts the downcast.” This tells us something important about who He is. He’s not one to say, “Suck it up and get over it.” He’s not one to say, “Toughen up.” He’s not one to say, “Try harder to get better.” Instead, it tells us that He comforts the downcast.
- There is a host of ways that He could do this (and certainly we want to acknowledge that clinical depression should be dealt with medically), but I want to drill down on the one that we find throughout these verses. It’s interesting and ironic that He has made the answer so abundant and so obvious. Yet we still miss it sometimes.
HOW DOES HE COMFORT? He created us so that opening our hearts to people opens our hearts to joy.
- 2 Corinthians 7:2 – “Make room for us in your hearts”
- One of the main ways that God comforts the downcast is through those around them.
- There is power and comfort (even if your circumstances haven’t changed) in being understood and heard.
- We don’t seem to appreciate this power, even though we’ve all experienced it.
- We’ve all spoken our heart to someone about a situation that was getting us down. Afterward, even though the situation itself hadn’t changed one iota, nonetheless we felt better. We were not as downcast anymore.
- When we think of God comforting the downcast, we might think of a miracle or an intangible sense of divine presence or a providential appointment. But we don’t think near as often about the common presence of people all around us. It seems too common, too obvious.
- We don’t think nearly as often about God working through His people. We should, though, because we talk about God’s people being His hands and feet.
- God gave us the church not as an afterthought. Instead, it’s integral to His plan and how He intends to support us. He knows how He made us and what we need to overcome the valleys when we feel downcast.
- What Paul says at the start of our passage is key: “Make room for us in your hearts.”
- So many of us today need to do this. We have pushed people away and chosen to retreat into isolation. We have no-maintenance “friendships” on social media that just leave us feeling worse. We have epidemic loneliness.
- All around us He has given us the antidote to this, but it requires opening our hearts to people. And many of us have become unwilling to do that.
- In one way, this isn’t a surprise.
- I remember hearing about a massive longitudinal study done by Harvard about life happiness. The results were simple: relationships are what brings happiness.
- Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be friends.
- That seems a ridiculous statement, but we see evidence of it all around us. The epidemic loneliness. The inability to connect with people. The continually doing things the same things that aren’t working.
- Also note that in v. 5 Paul speaks about the struggles he went through. Again, the joy he speaks about in v. 7 did not show up because those struggles disappeared. Rather, they happened because of the connection with the Corinthians that Titus shared with Paul.
- Often our most meaningful moments may involve going through a crisis together and emerging closer because of that. Again, it’s not an absence of struggles that brings this joy.
BUT HAVE YOU MET HUMANITY? “People are a pain” is not an adequate excuse to ignore this.
- 2 Corinthians 7:2-4, 6-7.
- Many of us shun the connections we’re talking about here because we say that people are difficult and annoying. “If somehow we could be surrounded by loving, caring people instead of the ones I’ve actually got around me, then maybe this would be true.”
- Well, it doesn’t work that way.
- Notice the difference between vv. 2-3 and vv. 4, 6-7. In vv. 2-3 Paul speaks of his challenging relationship with the Corinthians. There were misunderstandings. There were uncertainties. Yet in vv. 4, 6-7 he speaks words of encouragement and value to them.
- This shows us that the situation doesn’t need to be perfect around us for us to be able to experience this. And that’s good because it seems like there are always misunderstandings and uncertainties when you’re dealing with people. But we step up anyway.