but God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of titus,  and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that i rejoiced still more. [2 Corinthians 7:6–7]
i have always considered myself an introvert, and neglected to show an interest or pursue other people. i wasn’t on mission. i wasn’t encouraging. this was a cover for sin. i was unloving and selfish. i did not want to know others because i had a desire to hide my secret sin, to not know others and be known by others, i excused my inability to reach out to others as a personality type and preference. i was discouraged, felt like i was in an endless spiritual desert. like paul, i was downcast.
but God, who comforts the downcast sends hope. paul was downcast because of his anxiety for news of the corinthians and his affliction at every turn, and to comfort paul, God sent titus to encourage him. one of the ways God pursues us is to comfort us through the ministry of others.
 let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. [hebrews 10:23–25]
how do we endure the hardships of this broken world? how do we show God’s love to our dear brothers and sisters? we link arms and comfort and encourage one another. this is part of our ministry to one another-are we neglecting it? are we caught up in the busyness of life, ruminating over our own problems? no wonder we feel like we are in a collective dry desert of faith. no wonder we are downcast. who do you need to stir up to love and good works? who is stirring you up to love and good works? who are you meeting with? who are you encouraging?
when i finally realized that my introvertedness was actually a sin of selfishness, i repented and obeyed the command to encourage, to stir up and love others by pursuing them, and everything changed. my love for God has grown. my love for others has grown, both for brothers and sisters in Christ and non-believers. my joy in Christ has exploded as i have gotten to be a witness to confession of sin, as i have witnessed others stirred to good works, to repentance of sin, and people who have previously found God boring are now pursuing him passionately. this is not because of me, this is what God promises, this is how he works–we get to be “on mission” and to be part of his big plan to redeem a people for himself, we get to be ministers of encouragement and reconciliation.
i want to exhort you–
who in your life is downcast? who is it that you need to encourage? reach out to them today and pray, really pray for them–get on your knees and boldly plead for their needs. follow up with them, encouraging them to endure in joy.
are you downcast? encouraging others will begin to show you how God is working in others and will grow your hope in and joy in Christ.
encourage and stir up to good works! don’t let ‘personality type’ or fear of man stand in your way. call or text someone just to tell them how you have been encouraged by them or others around you! speak well of someone instead of gossiping or complaining! tell them of how your lot family leader, your pastor, your husband or wife, your discipler has helped you grow—you do not know who you will comfort, who you will encourage, whose heart you may stir, or whose hope and joy will grow in Christ!
~ conor eastman