“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.” II Corinthians 1:3-4
If I asked you to describe the word comfort, what picture would you present? You, sitting in a big cushy chair, cat curled up on your lap, fire in the fireplace, a good book, and a cup of tea? A child sitting in her mother’s lap, arms holding each other close? A big bowl of macaroni and cheese – the way mom used to make?
We all have different ideas when it comes to what brings us comfort – the easing or alleviation of feelings of grief or distress. Over the last few months, we have all experienced these uncomfortable feelings. Where did we find comfort?
As a child, I found comfort when I would crawl onto my Daddy’s lap and feel him wrap his strong arms around me. I still remember the comfort I felt whether someone had hurt my feelings, I had skinned my knees, or loud thunder woke me from my sleep. I felt safe and content – that everything would be all right. I can no longer run to my Daddy, but I often seek my Heavenly Father’s arms for comfort.
The Greek word used for comfort, specifically in the verses above, is paraklesis. It communicates the idea of a person standing alongside a friend to give encouragement and support. How comforting to know that, for us, that Friend is God. Did you catch that part in the above verse that He is not just the God of comfort, but the God of all comfort? As one commentator describes it, “There are two things of which God is said to have the monopoly: He is ‘the God of all grace’ and He is ‘the God of all comfort.’ All grace comes from Him, all lasting comfort comes from Him” (from Dr. Constable’s Notes on 2 Corinthians).
We always want the best person for the job – no matter what the job may be. No one can comfort us more than God. In fact, if we are comforted by a friend, we can know that God has equipped and sent that friend to give us His comfort. Note that it also says He comforts us in all our afflictions. His comfort is constant and unfailing, not periodic or occasional and is given in all afflictions, not just some.
How like our Heavenly Father to not only give us this comfort, but also to ask us to use our experience to extend His comfort to others. This is where we can be His hands and feet. We can speak words of comfort because He has given comfort to us.
Look carefully at verse four. It says “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.” Too often we fail to comfort others because we don’t know what to say (or do). That isn’t true. God has comforted us, giving us the ability, then, to comfort others.
As we recover from all the happenings of the last six months, let’s remember the comfort we have received and turn it around to give comfort to others. Recovery can take longer for some, so don’t stop caring, writing notes, praying for, and coming alongside those in need.
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