“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” -2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV
What a marvelous title – God of all comfort! New Testament writers use the concept comfort repeatedly. It conveys the idea of encouraging and exhorting those who cope with defeat, doubt and depression. Indeed, Jesus always stands next to His people with the pledge that He will never forsake them (Matt. 28:20). Although suffering is not eradicated, we have Someone who soothes us in the midst of it. Often we cry for temporary relief, but the God of all comfort gives permanent consolation in the midst of excruciating pain.
Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away. But if that were always so, people would turn to Him only out of a desire to be relieved of pain and not out of love for Him. We must understand that being comforted can also mean receiving strength, encouragement and hope to deal with our troubles. The more we suffer the more comfort God gives us. If you are feeling overwhelmed allow God to comfort you. Remember that every trial you endure will help you comfort other people who are suffering similar trials. Paul makes it clear that the comfort we receive from God is not for our benefit only, but also for sharing with other hurting people.
Comfort is not found in the absence of pain, but in the midst of it. So many hurting Christians believe their walk with the Lord is not as it should be because of their intense pain. Feeling comfortable and being comforted are two entirely different things. The first is a nice feeling, but tends to come and go. The second is a fact based on the Comforter, not on circumstances. And the wonderful thing is He does not come and go: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). When we are hurt, the God of all comfort gets out either the gentle medicine or the stronger dose to heal our wounds. And the wonderful part is He stays with us to comfort the pain. The God of all comfort, by the Holy Spirit, breathes comfort in the scrapes and wounds of life.
Those who have experienced hurting or suffering know it gets tiring after a while. The weary saint cries out with Paul to remove the thorn in his flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself also prayed for the cup to be removed. In fact, He was so physically and emotionally weary, an angel was sent to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).
Times of suffering are particularly difficult times, especially if the suffering has persisted. But it is precisely at these times the Comforter is the most precious. He is the Shepherd in the valley; the Father to His child; the Rock of ages; the Shelter in time of storm.
This should encourage those who are in pain. The parents of a wayward child will mourn, but does that mean they are not comforted? No! Their parental heart might ache for years to come, but their regenerated souls will take great comfort that there is One who loves their child more than they do.
The wife whose husband has abandoned her will grieve and mourn, but does that mean she is not a victorious Christian? No! The victory comes when she goes to her empty bed and realizes there is One who will never abandon her. She hurts, but her soul rests in One who is able to soothe her wounds.
The husband who takes fresh flowers to a grave weeps uncontrollably when he remembers his wife’s smile. Are his tears a mark of spiritual immaturity? No! The tears are a mark of a man who dearly loved his wife. His heart breaks, but his soul rests in the Comforter who promises he will see his wife again.
Peace is not the absence of pain. We would not be promised a Comforter – much less need One – if the Christian life was a life of unending bliss. The typical view of the Christian life is one of deliverance from trouble, but Scripture calls us to deliverance in trouble. I have learned an amazing truth amidst my struggles in life: I can have a pain in my heart and a settled peace in my soul at the same time.
And so can you through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Comforter soothes in various ways – through Scripture, through music, through other saints (who have probably been hurt) and through other tailor-made ways that suit our particular struggles. God is wonderfully creative, perfectly matching comfort with sorrow. As a comforting Father, He gives strength to go on in the midst of pain. He is the perfect parent to His children!
My prayer for you today is that you will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around you. He is saying to those who belong to Him, “Sweet hurting child, you are so special to Me. I hurt with you. I’m staying right here to take good care of you.” As He is blowing gently on the stinging wound, He is remaining close to His children.
God’s peace is often unexplainable to someone who has not experienced it. In my life, the deeper the sorrow has been, the more indescribable the peace. So, the next time you tell someone about Christ, listen carefully to see where the brokenness is and how Christ can put that person’s life back together. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
One of the many paradoxes of the Christian life is that the grace of God is most keenly experienced not in the best, but in what seem to be the worst of times. As much as a Christian longs for exaltation (1 Cor. 4:8), it is often in humiliation that he finds grace (2 Cor. 12:9). It may not always be well with my circumstances, my emotions or my personality, but it is always well with my soul!