Have you ever known people who despite tragedy were able to offer comfort to others?
I know a woman who within two years lost her husband, her father, and her two sons. When I saw her at the funeral of the last one to die, I was impressed by the way she graciously went around welcoming those who came to pay their respects. She offered comfort to others when you would think she would be the one needing it.
On the other hand, some people are devastated by personal hardships. When they suffer difficulties they find no peace, no consolation. They certainly are in no position to help others.
What is the difference? Where do those who can comfort others while enduring their tragedy receive the strength to help others?
The apostle Paul was one individual who had learned the secret. He passed what he learned along to us in his second letter to the Corinthians. It is in 2 Corinthians chapter one, verses three through five where we learn about “True Comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5 English Standard Version of the Bible tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.”
Principle One is The Source of True Comfort
Many people seek comfort “in all the wrong places” to borrow a line from a song popular three and one-half decades ago.
- Some people find comfort in thinking their problems are no worse than those of others.
- Some people in thinking things will improve without ever taking the required actions to bring about the positive change.
- Still other believe their situation is so bad that it can’t be helped.
- Some people try to forget. Some people try finding comfort in exciting and dissipating pleasures of the flesh.
- Some in complaining and repining.
True comfort comes from God. He is called the “God of all comfort” in the Bible passage. Have you ever wondered why him?
It is because He is also the “Father of mercies.” The term “father” implies “source” as in the source of all mercies. He is the source of all kinds of goodness and mercy says James 1:17. Comfort is just one of His many mercies, and so He is described as:
- The “God of all comfort” – 2 Corinthians 1:3
- “The God of patience and comfort” – Romans 15:5
- As the God of All comfort, there is no limitation to the comfort He provides.
The source of “True Comfort”, then, is God. But when does it come, and how?
Principle Two is The Bestowal of “True Comfort.”
True Comfort is bestowed “in all our tribulation.” God comforts us when it is most needed were are told in 2 Corinthians 1:4. The Bible teaches God will not desert us in our times of need.
- “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5b
- He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear – 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Yes, even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” He is there to comfort us we are told in Psalms 23:4
Indeed, the greater the affliction, the greater the comfort we learn in 2 Corinthians 1:5. As the sufferings abound so does the consolation!
True Comfort is bestowed “through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 says “…so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”
Just as with all other spiritual blessings, it is found only “in Christ” – Ephesians 1:3.
To receive the comfort that comes from God, then, we must be “in Christ.” Being “in Christ,” there are two avenues through which comfort is dispensed. The first is The Word of God as seen in Romans 15:4. The second is Prayer as seen in Philippians 4: 6 – 7.
Principle Three is The Purpose of “True Comfort”
To comfort others “…that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble” teaches 2 Corinthians 1:4. The comfort God provides through Christ is not just for our private consumption.
“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.” – John Henry Jowett (1817-1893)
Yes, our comfort is designed to be shared!
A case in point is how God comforted Paul in 2 Corinthians 7: 4 – 7, 13, The Corinthians comforted Titus in the way they received him. So comforted by the Corinthians’ reception, Titus’ coming then comforted Paul. Yet Paul saw that the source of this comfort was ultimately from God!
This reveals another avenue by which God bestows His comfort. It may come DIRECTLY from God (e.g., through His Word – Romans 15:4). It may also come INDIRECTLY from God, through the exhortations of others as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:18.
Sadly, many people neglect all avenues through which God offers “true comfort.” They do not feed upon the Word and pray, to receive comfort directly. Nor do they develop the network of relationships with other Christians, through which God might comfort them indirectly when needed! But when all avenues are utilized, then “true comfort” is possible, and we can then pass it along!
Principle Four is A Consequence of True Comfort
Gratitude mingled with adoration is a consequence. The Apostle Paul began our text with these words: “Blessed be the God and Father…” says 2 Corinthians 1:3. It was the “true comfort” he had received that moved him to praise God.
Such praise is only natural. Not only because of the comfort we have received but also because of the comfort we can now pass along to others!
Are you lacking in this “true comfort”? Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places. It comes only from “the God of all comfort.” It comes only “through Christ.”
Are you in Christ? Perhaps you are not benefiting from the comfort God gives others. There are those who would be happy to share their comfort with you. But you must be willing to develop the relationships necessary for such comfort to travel from them to you!
Are you working on your relationship with fellow Christians?
Philippians 2: 1 – 5 teaches For those who are faithful Christians, having delighted in fullness of “true comfort”, remember these exhortations
- “Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
Do these things, and we will all experience the “true comfort” by which we will want to say: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” – 2 Corinthians 1:3.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.