“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus . . .” (2 Cor. 7:6)
Last week, I had the privilege to officiate at a funeral for one of our members, Ed Sumner. During the funeral, I shared some thoughts on his situation based on 2 Corinthians 7:6.
The Apostle Paul, who penned these words, knew the Word and promises of God well, but he still needed comfort. He was downcast, and God gave him the comfort he needed. How? “By the coming of Titus.”
Ed was also one who knew theology. He was steeped in the Bible. He had shelves full of books.
But Ed was often angry and downcast. He was lonely. He was an only child. He had no relatives. Relationships had not worked out well for him.
One day, Ed showed up at our church. He attended, and he kept coming back.
A few weeks later, he joined our church and stood to profess his faith along with two young girls who were doing the same that day. It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ in its diversity.
A few months later, Ed’s sickness got worse. He had nobody to care for him. He called on his church body.
A multitude of people stepped up, helped him, and visited him in the hospital. When he needed money to get into rehab, the church came through for him and then visited him while he was there.
Eventually, Ed got out of rehab and seemed on the path to a more normal life. During this time, I would often invite Ed to our house for football parties or other gatherings.
I began to notice something. Ed was not angry anymore. He was much happier. He didn’t seem so downcast.
What happened? God had comforted him through the coming of Evergreen Church.
And we were comforted by his coming as well. Sometimes, we were perplexed in figuring out how to help him, but we were thankful that Ed had come and wanted to be a part of us and be loved by the church.
Ed was deeply interested in the church, and he often would call me to ask how he could pray for the church. I miss that, and I miss being able to invite him over to our gatherings.
This experience reinforced an important point that has been percolating in my head for a long time. God comforts us, but He generally does it through people. We need people. It’s not good for a man to be alone.
As I write this, I know that I need to continually encourage myself to make known my hurts and needs to people. I need to put myself in the path of those whom I know will love and care for me. When I get stuck, I need the Word of God, but I need people who will make it real to me through voices, facial expressions, and a kind touch.
That’s what we all need. God comforts the downcast, but He does it through people, just as He did for the Apostle Paul and Ed Sumner and does for me.