How God Comforts His Depressed Servants

Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on 2 Corinthians with a message entitled “How God Comforts His Depressed Servants” centered on 2 Corinthians 7: 2 – 16. Many people have been oppressed by depression over the years. Christians are not immune from this scourge, yet hesitate to admit it. Their thinking is, if a person is forgiven and welcomed into the family of God, “about what should they be depressed.” Even so, depression is a reality and today’s passage looks at how the Apostle Paul overcame depression in his life and ministry.

Two points emerge from this passage: why God’s servants need comfort and how God provides that comfort. First, true servants expose themselves to depression. These ministers can be misunderstood or mischaracterized as was the case here with Paul in Corinth. Despite that hurt Paul continues to love and believe in the saints at Corinth. Yet he was also despondent over them, disturbed by the report he had received, and disappointed that Titus had yet to return from Corinth. As a result, Paul was physically weary and troubled from within. Paul’s apparent depression and suffering were the result of his openness. In loving and caring for people we do open ourselves to hurt. Paul knew, however, that the very openness that provides lead-ins for hurt and depression was also an integral part of what a Christian must do to effectively minister. We are not called into a protective shell to avoid hurt. Rather, the Lord sends us into the world to share His love and care. Thus Jesus, in John 13:35, tells us “By this all people will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Only by intentionally sinning against God and His command can we stop loving and caring for one another. Yet Paul still had episodes of depression. God, however, knows how to comfort His own.

Oftentimes in the Bible when circumstances seem cruel two words appear, “But God.” It is the same in today’s passage. God encouraged Paul by the return of Titus. How often God uses others to provide encouragement for believers. While we might underestimate our ability to provide help for others, sometimes just showing up and being there for another gives cheer. This points to the need for a sufferer to be around others. Hiding in isolation prevents others’ abilities and presence from providing succor. Paul received aid from the Corinthians themselves. While he had written a severe letter it was written in the hope of their repentance, a repentance that did, in fact, come. It was not a worldly repentance but a godly repentance. This, the result of the Corinthians’ sincere grief over wrongs committed, led to a restoration of relationship and afforded consolation. Paul’s despondency turned to rejoicing (v. 16). Truly God can comfort His children. This comfort is available to all who come to the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son. Come to Him today.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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