“For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us.”2 Corinthians 7:5a-6
My personality naturally tends toward being depressed and down. So when I read that God “comforts the downcast,” I find great hope for people like me. When I’m at my lowest, my idea of comfort is removal of my pain. I’ll pray, “Lord, just take away whoever or whatever is upsetting me.”
Most often the removal of the source of the pain is not the way the Lord brings us comfort. As we give up our worries, trust Him in our fears, forgive those who mistreat us, and receive His forgiveness for our misdeeds, we feel His comforting power.
Paul had sent other letters to his Corinthian friends, at least one of which addressed a problem and resulted in sorrow and repentance. The incident demonstrates that “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). Sometimes comfort as we are downcast comes exactly that way—through the honest words of a friend. And then there is that beautiful, deeper picture of restoration pointing us to our true Friend, Jesus, who shouldered the wounds of God’s wrath for us so we could be comforted.
Usually God comforts us by healing relationships, not by eliminating the people in them.