DtN November – To comfort those in need.

God is a God of comfort. He is able to comfort us in all our tribulations but more than that, through us He comforts those around us.  Part of our mission in life is to reach out to others with God’s grace, love, mercy and to bring comfort. Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians chapter 1:

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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Cor 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 

Paul begins by praising God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His wonderful mercies and comfort. The Greek word for ‘blessed’ used here is EULOGETOS which means ‘blessed’ or ‘praised’. It is used eight times in the N.T. It is only used in reference to God and was used in the following ways: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (i.e., the praised one, Mark 14:61), “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (Luke 1:68), “The Creator, who is blessed for ever” (Romans 1:25), “God blessed for ever” (Romans 9:5), “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (this verse), “God and Father…which is blessed for evermore” (2 Corinthians 11:31), and “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3).

When we speak this kind of blessing to God, it does not change God Himself but our position and perspective of God. If we are seated with God in heavenly realms, we see things not from our situation but from God’s viewpoint. We can never comfort those in pain from the perspective of our own problems and experiences but only from God’s perspective, so it is important that we focus on Him and give Him praise.

The Father of all Mercies

Paul spoke of the heavenly Father as the Father of mercies. The word ‘father’ is used many times in Scripture in reference to the originator or the source. For example, the devil is called the father of lies (John 8:44); i.e. he is the author and originator of lying. So is our heavenly Father the author, originator, and source of all mercy. Mercy is the proceeding love, reaching out to meet a need without considering the merit or condition of the one who receives the help.

Each time mankind cried out in faith to Jesus, His mercy reached out and met that need (Matthew 9:27-30, 15:22-28; Mark 5:19, 10:46-52; and Luke 17:11-14). Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful” (Matthew 5:7); “be…merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36); don’t neglect “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith” (Matthew 23:23); “I will have mercy…for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13); and “have…compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on you” (Matthew 18:21-35).

God is rich in mercy because of His great love which He has loved us (Ephesians 2:4), to have saved us not by our works but according to His mercy (Titus 3:5), to have a throne called grace whereby we may come and obtain mercy (Hebrews 4:16).

Mercy is a Christian virtue that is not only received from God but also expected, in turn, to be demonstrated to others (Matthew 5:7, 23:23; and James 3:17).

God of all comfort

Six Hebrew and eight Greek words were translated ‘comfort’ in the King James Version. The Hebrew word used most often is NACHAM and conveys the idea of someone being moved with great compassion and feelings of pity. The Greek noun used here in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is PARAKLESIS and has been translated consolation, exhortation and comfort. It was used eleven times in the book of 2 Corinthians and that is why many refer to this epistle as the book of comfort. This phrase, the God of all comfort, carries the idea of a divine comforter who encourages, refreshes, strengthens, aids, assists, and is an ever-present help in time of need (Psalms 46:1, 94:17-18, and 121:2).

The ways that God chooses to comfort are not always the same. He may deliver or remove the cause of affliction (Acts 9:26-31 and 20:9-12), comfort with words and a hope for the future (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) or use people to share their common faith (Romans 1:12). He may also comfort by prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:3), by sending fellow labourers to serve and strengthen (Colossians 4:11), by the ministry of the Word (1 Thessalonians 2:11), by using the body of Christ as a channel of comfort (1 Thessalonians 5:11), by prayer (2 Corinthians 1:11), etc. The point is that the source of all comfort is God, no matter what channel He may choose. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we have such a loving and caring God who “knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us” (Hebrews 2:18)?

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Paul blessed God for His divine comfort and, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, for His deliverance.

Comforts us in all our tribulation

The Greek noun used here is THLIPSIS and has been translated nine times in 2 Corinthians (2 Corinthians 1:4, 8; 2:4; 4:17; 6:4; 7:4; 8:2, and 13) as the English words; tribulation, trouble, affliction and burdened. The corresponding verb, THLIBO, was used three times (2 Corinthians 1:6, 4:8, and 7:5) and was translated troubled and afflicted.

Paul was speaking from personal experience, as one who had undergone severe tribulation. He had fought wild beasts at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32), been arrested and imprisoned, been beaten severely, faced death time and again, been stoned, been shipwrecked, and been exposed to the open sea. He had been in danger from flooded rivers, bandits, the Jews, the Gentiles, and false brethren. He had gone without sleep and had been hungry, thirsty, cold, naked, and faced pressure from concern over the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). If anyone knew how to go through troubles with Christ’s strength, it was Paul.

We see in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God revealed to Paul that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Paul, who had experienced God’s comfort in a way that perhaps no other person has, here revealed how the Lord accomplished this. It was through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christianity is not the absence of trials but the strength and comfort of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, bringing us through (Philippians 4:11-13).

We may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble

Experiencing comfort from God in our lives, in and through trouble, persecution or anything this world throws at us gives us an amazing ability to be able to bring comfort to absolutely anyone in any situation. It is not true to say you can only help someone if you yourself have experienced that situation. You don’t have to experience a specific event to help comfort someone who has. You do need to have experiential knowledge of God’s comfort, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in that area. The comfort we bring is from God, not our experiences which are flawed and seen through an emotional perspective. We should never say to someone, “I know how you feel,” because simply put we do not and cannot know how they feel. Everyone deals with situations differently. Instead listen to them and bring comfort from God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

With the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

All comforts come from God, and our comforts are in Him. He speaks peace to souls by forgiving us of all sins; and he comforts them by the energising of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of His grace. He can bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and to give hope and joy in place of sorrows. The grace of God that is bestowed upon us is not only to make us joyful but also that we may comfort others. Jesus gives comfort to support us as we simply trust in and follow Him. Let us consider Paul’s words and seek to bring comfort with the comfort we ourselves have known.