“For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us …”
– 2 Corinthians 7:5-6a
It’s been said the most hopeful words in scripture are “But God …”
In two words all the burden of our sin, all of the deficit of our depraved nature, all of our weaknesses, all of the tears we have accumulated through every trial and defeat are set entirely to the side, and replaced with One who sits above it all and looks upon us in love.
“But God …”
Paul, here, writing to this church in Corinth, is just honestly presenting the road he’s been on. Honestly presenting what true ministry – in any venue, any capacity – looks like: “Our bodies had no rest! We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.”
Nevertheless God, Who comforts the downcast …
The word here in Greek for comforts is “parakaleo” which means to call near, or invite or invoke.
God calls the “downcast” – the word translates more literally to “the depressed” or “the humiliated” – near to Himself.
So the question is: Are you letting God draw you near in the things you are facing? Waiting on Him to do what He promises He will do? Or are you spinning out in your own understanding, and spiraling downward into desperation as a result?
We read a word like “comfort” and tend to think “relief.”
We cry out to God, “Comfort me!” And it’s almost like We expect Him to wrap us in a warm blanket, give us a glass of milk, and make all of our problems go away.
And if He doesn’t do that, we begin to think maybe His promises to comfort us aren’t true.
God’s comfort – as it is defined here, is that He draws us near to Himself. And He holds us there.
Regardless of whatever else may be happening. Whatever else we may face. However we might feel.
God comforts us with His presence. Which is the only comfort any of us actually need!
But if we’re always looking for something else – some self-determined definition of comfort – we will constantly come up empty in that. Constantly be left wanting. Constantly falling into deeper despondency.
God’s presence – if that is what you are seeking with your life – that is a quest He will never leave unfulfilled. He will call you near. And in His presence is a comfort you will not find anywhere else.
When your hope is set on heaven, the trials and fears of this world have no true hold on you.
It’s like the great refrain we sing: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face – and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
We read in 1 Peter 5:5-7: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Take solace in His presence today. God, who comforts the downcast, comforts you.
Joey Crandall is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Carson Valley.