Jump Start # 2367
2 Corinthians 7:6 “But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”
Our verse today is layered with many lessons and applications. God comforts the depressed. God comforted us, Paul says. The conclusion is that Paul was depressed. That bothers some of us. We don’t like having a depressed apostle. In our thinking, they ought to always be upbeat, optimistic, hopeful and bright. They are the ones who encourage the rest of us. Now, if an apostle is depressed, that really troubles us.
Some thoughts here.
First, we know that there are various levels of depression. There is clinical depression and often chemical imbalances are the cause of such troubles. In the first century, mental health wasn’t highly understood or studied. Counselors, therapists, and specialists in mental health did not exist. Anti-depression and anxiety medicine, as we know them today, did not exist.
God comforted us. How did Paul know he was depressed? The Holy Spirit told him when this message was revealed to him. But, likely, he knew. Most know when they are fearful, anxious, or down in the dumbs. Paul didn’t have a couch to lie on and someone to figure out his past to bring meaning to why he felt this way. The verse before ours today pretty much tells us all that we need to know. It says “we were afflicted on every side; conflicts without, fears within.” That’s why Paul was depressed. Things were tough in his life.
Second, God helped Paul. The way God helped him would be ignored and laughed at today. God didn’t send Paul to get professional help. God didn’t send Paul on a vacation. God didn’t give Paul some medicine. He sent Titus. God sent a friend. A friend who had news about how others were doing. Paul was worried about these people. Titus set his mind to ease. Titus refreshed his spirit. Titus was the solution to Paul’s troubles. With Titus, came comfort.
Third, God was aware of Paul’s situation. It was God who sent the help. It was God who was on top of things. Sometimes no one else understands, God does. Sometimes others don’t get why we are so bothered. God knows. And, the best help is always what God sends.
Now from this passage, some lessons for us.
First, we get discouraged and depressed. If Paul did, I’m certain we will. Some think all of this is a faith issue. If our faith was strong enough, nothing would bother us. That sounds wonderful until you get out of the back seat of the car and sit behind the steering wheel. We sure can run the other guys life so much better than he can, but some how we just can’t get our own life to be so smooth.
Now, there are things that discourage us and depress us that probably shouldn’t. A favorite TV show is cancelled. A favorite player is traded. An actor dies. A restaurant closes. This is life. Life is always changing. It is very fluid. It moves and rarely does anything stay the same. Go back to your high school, decades after you graduated, it doesn’t look the same. Go by the old house you grew up in, the neighborhood, and the house no longer look the same. We can let things bother us that shouldn’t. In the big picture, many of these things do not matter. In fact, in a dozen years, many of these things won’t even be remembered by us.
There are things that ought to bother us. There are things that can take the wind out of our sails. Serious things. Spiritual things. I have returned to churches that I once preached at. Not only are things not the same, but sometimes the situation is dire. Congregations struggling. Folks no longer faithful to God. Division. Error. Trouble that has ripped a church apart. As a preacher, it’s discouraging to hear of folks within the congregation who make the wrong choices. Their lives are falling apart. Week after week, the preacher does his best to connect, help and teach, but sitting right there are people who are in the midst of wrong choices and they will continue to make those wrong choices. The preacher feels defeated. He feels like his work is in vain. He wonders what he should have done to connect with these people and to help them make the right choices. There are certainly things that get us discouraged and depressed.
Second, the solution to some of our discouragement and depression needs to be received from Heaven. Rather than finding an expert in mental health, or running to the pharmacy to get some medicine, God can often help us. Now, we understand that when a person is sick physically, they often need medicine. And, with some chemical imbalances, medicine is likewise needed. BUT, there are times when Heaven’s help is the best help. In Paul’s case it was the sending of Titus. Maybe there is a Titus there for you. You may not see him because you are not in services. You may not see him because you have sought out physical solutions and earthly help without seeing what God could do. You may not believe that God can help you. Paul got help. It came in the form of another disciple, a Titus. Sometimes our best help is sitting right there in the pew.
Finally, though depressed, Paul didn’t quit. We do. We use our feelings as a reason why we can’t go on. I don’t feel like going to church we say, so we don’t. I don’t feel like being around others, even though our Titus may be there for us, so we don’t. I don’t feel like praying. So we don’t. I don’t feel like teaching a class. So we don’t. You don’t find Paul going there. You don’t find Paul staying in bed for months because he was depressed. You don’t find Paul sitting in a bar, nor, sitting on the edge of a bridge. Paul didn’t forget who he was and what he was to do, even though he was depressed. We tend to allow our inner feelings to dictate what we do and who we are. If I’m singing, “I’m happy today, oh, yes, I’m happy today,” then you’ll see me. However, if I am unable to sing that song, then don’t count on me. I can’t be reliable until I move past how I feel. It may take a while. It may take months. It could even get into years, but until then, just don’t count on me. Funny, Paul wasn’t like that. Onward he traveled. Onward he preached. Onward he kept going for the Lord. Maybe it’s time we got a hold of our feelings and took charge of our lives. Rather than allowing our feelings to drive the car, we get things back under control ourselves. We will not be mastered by anything, including our feelings. We will not be a slave to anything, other than Jesus.
You ever get the blues? I do. Mondays are kind of hard for me. I think about what happened on Sunday and I feel like I should have done more. I should have preached better. I should have helped this one more. I want everyone to do their best. I want everyone to be walking close to the Lord. And, when I see some who are not, it makes me think that I let them down somehow. I know people make their own choices. And, yes, I know that some walked away from the Lord. But still, like a mother hen, I want all the little chicks to be growing, happy and right where they need to be. Often, it’s not that way.
What do you do when you get the blues? I pray. I think about Paul. I think about what I can do better next time. And, I get at it the best I can.
Don’t feel bad because some days you get the blues. Sometimes you can’t help it. What you do with it and more so, what it does to you, makes all the difference. God sent Titus. I like that. We need Titus in our lives and we need to be a Titus to others.