God comforts the depressed
God, who comforts the depressed – 2 Corinthians 7:6
2 Corinthians 1:2-6
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles,
He suffered and battled severe depression all his life. At one point late in life, he sank deep into despair and had to fight “the awful temptation to end his own life. Could this man possibly be useful in service to the Lord? Does severe depression or even personality disorders disqualify someone? The answer is a resounding no!
James Hudson Taylor arrived in China in 1854. Rather than serve in coastal cities, where most of the other Protestant missionaries served, he went into the vast inland provinces of China. The China Inland Mission was established on June 25, 1865. Thousands of Chinese accepted the Lord Jesus Christ.
Taylor incorporated many fresh new ideas, many of which were harshly criticized. Missionaries were required to live and dress like those they were reaching out to. They immersed themselves in the culture.
He correctly understood that single women were fully capable of operating distant mission outposts without male support. His policy was an overwhelming success. By 1882, CIM included 95 single women and 56 wives. His vision changed modern-day missions. Women distinguished themselves in virtually every aspect of service. By 1898, strict gender roles were almost swept aside in many evangelical missions. Women barred from ordained ministry in their homelands were given an open door to serve abroad. Hundreds eagerly volunteered, and the rest is history.
When people experience difficult circumstances, loss, and have their way blocked, they often become downcast and depressed. Does this prevent the children of the King from being used in the Father’s service? The Scriptures answer with a resounding No! It is quite common for children of the King to be in challenging circumstances as they serve the Father. So it was with Paul.
2 Corinthians 7:5-6
5 When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside.
6 But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us.
But something marvelous happened to Paul amid his difficulties. He was encouraged by the Father Himself. The Father is the comforter who comes alongside to help, console, and encourage.
2 Corinthians 1:3 God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
REFLECT & PRAY
Often when we struggle, the Father is at work to bring about perspective transformation in our lives.
Father help me to recognize that You use the struggles and discouragement I often experience to bring about perspective transformation within me. You are at work to renew my mind and change my behavior.
The Greek word translated as downcast, distressed, downhearted, or depressed is tapeinos. Tapeinos connotes low-lying or lowly. As an emotional state, it means to be downhearted, lowly in spirit, or depressed. As a substantive, it refers to downhearted people filled with melancholy and despair. It is part of the fallen human state to become depressed or discouraged. Many children of the King suffered from melancholy or depression.
But the great promise of Scripture is that the Father is there to comfort the depressed.
2 Corinthians 7:6 But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us . . ..
The Greek term translated as encouraged or comforted is parakaleo. Parakaleo connotes a broad semantic range of ideas to urge, implore, exhort, call to or for, to encourage. It comes from two Greek words para – alongside or to the side of, and kaleo – to call, aid, help, comfort, or encourage. It connotes alleviating sorrow or distress, giving emotional strength, cheering up, encouraging, comforting, or consoling. It refers to the effort to mitigate sorrow or distress or provide emotional strength.
That which, on the surface, sounds objective and distant is, in fact, quite personal and near. Who is the one who has been discouraged and become distraught and depressed? “Paul refers to himself in his worry over the Corinthians which drove him into depression” (William R. Baker). Depression is part of his autobiography. Even the upbeat, never say die, Paul, who pressed onto the upward call of the Lord Jesus Christ, became downcast because of the difficulties he suffered. Sorrow and repentance, grief and joy are often intertwined.
Out of this challenging situation, Paul sets forth a life-changing principle. “Paul contrasts godly grief with worldly grief. The first produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, the second produces death. The difference between godly grief and worldly grief is that the first issues in repentance while the second ends with remorse” (Kruse).
“The Corinthians proved their repentance by doing everything they could to mend the wretched situation that their thoughtless conduct had produced. Now they hated the sin they had committed and even hated themselves for committing it, and they worked hard to atone for it” (Barclay).
On the other hand, worldly sorrow, in one sense, is not sorrow at all. It is not sorrow for the sin itself nor for the hurt it may have caused others. Instead, it is only resentment for getting caught. Those who experience worldly sorrow, if given an opportunity, would most likely do the same thing again. If they thought they could escape the consequences, they would do it (Barclay).
Godly sorrow is a feeling of sorrow that recognizes the wrongness of the thing done. It does not merely regret the consequences. It hates the thing itself. “We must be very careful that our sorrow for sin is not merely sorrow that we have been found out, but sorrow which, seeing the evil of the sinful thing, is determined never to do it again and has dedicated the rest of its life to atone, by God’s grace, for what it has done” (Barclay).
21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,
22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.
The Father uses confrontation that produces grief and sorrow to bring about life transformation. The Father takes no pleasure in causing grief in children of the King. He does take great pleasure in the fact that grief and sorrow produce repentance. Paul’s heart reveals the Father’s heart. Paul rejoiced because they were grieved into repenting. They changed their minds and took action to rectify the situation.
Children of the King are often caught in their own history and relive it. Becoming aware of this reality and experiencing perspective transformation renews the mind and frees us to behave differently.
© Dr. H 2022