21. A Common Affliction

‘Comfort’ Meditations No.21: A Common Affliction

2 Cor 7:6 God, who comforts the downcast”

When embarking on a series like this it is easy to lose sight of some of the main issues that we are raising and so I want to come back to something that I sought to present in the early studies – even the best of us get downcast sometimes.

The psalmist forlornly cried, Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psa 42:5). Downcast means being sad, dejected, having our eyes cast down when we don’t want to look the world in the eye. In our starter verse above, Paul had just said, “we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. Wow! Troubles in the world around us (outside) pull us down (inside). The psalmist’s answer to himself was, “Put your hope in God.”  Paul’s answer was Titus coming with good news. Always God, sometimes people, sometimes good news; all can bring comfort.

The danger in all this is that when we are feeling on top of the world -and hopefully this will be often – we can feel intolerant of lesser mortals who are not in our place of triumph; why aren’t they taking hold of the grace of God (like we are!) and knowing the provision of God?

Now I need to keep on saying it, but the reality is that in some measure of other, we all of us have days when we are really struggling to handle it all graciously. Anyone who says they never have such days are, I suggest, living in a cloud of unreality. I have known (lovely) believers who constantly show outwardly a happy buoyant life, always a smile, always positive, and yet the truth was that deep inside they were far from that and every now and then they collapsed into a state of misery.

Please understand that I am not demeaning the Spirit-filled God-conscious, triumphant life, which I hope we all experience much of the time. My only point is that it is not the end of the world when you have a day that is not like that. Looking at the apostle Paul as an example, he was clearly one of the most positive men around and yet there were times in his ministry when he was honest enough to confess, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Cor 1:8) Wow! And that the great apostle who travelled the globe and knew incredible blessing and revelation, so much in fact, “because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Cor 12:7) God in His love for Paul, knew that pride could become the most damaging and destructive factor in his ministry and so allowed him what many think was some form of disability. Never discomfort? Probably no ministry. Shame.

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