Dear church,

This is the second time the apostle Paul has made the topic of “comfort” a major theme in this letter to the Corinthian church. God “comforts the downcast.”

For Paul, comfort came from God when he and the apostles found their co-worker Titus, who brought them news from Corinth. The news was good. The Corinthian church had received a tough letter Paul had written them previously. It was a letter that caused them grief. But the grief caused the church to move in the right direction. It was so much so they were beginning, perhaps, to warm to Paul and his message again.

Following the mentions of “comfort” in this chapter is interesting. Paul was comforted by locating Titus. Part of this comfort stemmed from the comfort the Corinthian church provided to Titus. It seems Titus had reason for concern – and the church had reason for concern, too. Its members had met Titus with “fear and trembling.” Again, Paul had written a harsh letter to the church, and the letter “grieved” the church. How would this meeting go between the church and Titus?

As it turned out, the meeting went very well. The church was able to bring comfort to Titus. Things were improving in the church. It was solving a major problem that it had among is members – a problem that we don’t know much about but which Paul had written to them about.

Paul said, “Therefore we are comforted.”

And so following the “comfort” in this chapter is interesting. The church comforted Titus, who comforted Paul. And all of this was superintended by God, who “comforts the downcast.” And we remember this is the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Where do you receive your comfort?

A lot of things can cause us discomfort in life. We can be stressed about certain things – about people in our lives who are struggling, about circumstances in our own lives we can’t fix, about health conditions and finances and world concerns. These can cause discomfort.

We can also face discomfort because of sadness over something that’s been lost in life – a loved one or an ability or some situation that went south – something that can’t really be fixed. So our discomfort can come from anxiety over things we’re worried about or from situations where something dear to us has been lost.

And God “comforts the downcast.”

This made me think about Jacob Marley’s ghost in the story A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge had a late-night encounter with Marley’s ghost, where the ghost said Scrooge would be punished in the after-life for his tight-fisted ways.

This caused Scrooge some discomfort. He implored the ghost, “Speak comfort to me, Jacob!” And the ghost replied, “I have none to give.”

That would be a very dark moment – eagerly desiring some bit of reassurance or hope and simply being told none exists. I suppose that’s what Hell must be like.

But God “comforts the downcast.”

For a Christian, comfort is just a moment away. After all, Paul wrote, “all the promises of God find their Yes in (Christ)” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

And it’s not only that. Even grief is aimed at comfort – that is, “godly grief” ends in comfort. Godly grief produces repentance. It turns us toward God and spurs change in our lives. It leads to “salvation without regret.” Now, that’s a pretty good spot to be – to know we are saved and to not even regret the things we at one time regretted. Salvation covers over a lot of dark spots in our lives.

Chris

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