All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NLT
I believe to know that God is the “source of all comfort” is or should be a great encouragement and strength to every believer. Why? Because, as I have learned through troubles and trials of my own – and those of others – God is, without question, the ultimate comforter, and His Word is the greatest source of comfort. Whether we are suffering from an illness, finances, relationship, or some other life event – having a trusted comforter and/or counselor, as it is translated from the Greek word ( parakletos), is of great value. Think about it, the Creator and sustainer of the universe who knows all there is to know about us, the One who commands the winds and the waves to be still is ready, willing, and able to guide and comfort us. Seriously, could there be any truer source of comfort? All other sources, even the dearest of friends and family, will fall short in comparison. Don’t misunderstand me, God will undoubtedly use others to encourage and comfort us throughout life, in part that’s what this verse is about. From the time we are born to the time we die we will all have need of comfort, which is basically the encouragement and strength to keep going when life is difficult, sad, or overwhelming. However, as Paul told the Corinthians, even this comfort from others flows from God who has in time past comforted them. Paul was able to comfort because he had known God’s comfort in His own sufferings. He is one of the greatest mentors of my faith – not because I knew him or talked to him directly, but because he shared how he suffered, prayed, still suffered and yet boasted of God’s power and all-sufficient grace. The same is true for us as believers today. Because we have His Spirit, the comforter, in us we can comfort others out of the wealth of comfort we have received from Him in our own experiences. It is good to remember that there may be some who receive the comfort indirectly by remembering what they saw or heard about how God took us through a difficult time or how we praised Him even in the storm. Paul says, this in itself will be an overflowing source of comfort to those who are dealing with their own suffering.
So here’s the real challenge … How are we dealing with our suffering? Do others see us leaning on Jesus or full of panic and overcome by fear? Do they hear our praises when He delivers us through a particular trial or are they left to wonder how we came through it so well? Paul’s life is a great example, whether he was dealing with the health issues that plagued him or the persecution and imprissonments he endured, he never stopped sharing the Gospel, love, and power of Christ. Even when things didn’t go as he prayed they would go – he boasted of his weaknesses so that God’s all-sufficient grace and power would be made known.
Father, thank You for the troubles of this life that allow us to know Your comfort and that strengthen us in our faith. May we, like Paul, boast in You – even in the storms of life – that others will know You and Your all-sufficient grace and Your enduring compassion, comfort, and overwhelming peace. This I pray in Jesus’ Name – amen.