The God of All Comfort
2 CO 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
As you read this text from Paul’s second letter to the church of Corinth, remember that Paul is responding to the growing doubts of those in the church in Corinth. For those who evaluate him from a purely worldly point of view, Paul’s endless suffering cast doubt on his apostleship. You know, it seems contradictory to have the power to heal and cast out demons in the name of Jesus but suffer physical ailment, persecution including beatings and jail time. For that matter, as far as some were concerned, the shame attached to his ongoing struggle undermined his authority in the church. However, they falsely judged, as we do, that God would protect him from suffering if he did exactly what God wanted him to do. Instead, and most importantly, Paul’s apostleship conforms to the death and resurrection of Christ. PhP 3:10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death . . .
What are your expectations when it comes to suffering? Many act as if when we suffer, even for the cause of Christ, something is dreadfully wrong and we should call for an immediate resolution. But think about it. What about our call to follow Christ regardless of the cost (Luke 9:23)? I wish that was the end of our confusion but, in many cases, we have also mandated that the circumstances and demands of ministry be limited to our particular “comfort zone.” Now really? Could you imagine a conversation between Jesus, the Son of God, and God the Father where Jesus demands that His earthly ministry exclude suffering? After all, the impact of that would guarantee our condemnation because we would be without a Savior.
Here is a hard truth that is often rejected. Actually, we can suffer and, all the while we are suffering, we can be comforted. Suffering and comfort are not mutually exclusive as is often the assumption. In case you are confused, God doesn’t promise us a life free of suffering. In fact, God has a purpose for suffering. The Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear. RO 5:3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
God not only has a purpose in using suffering to help us mature in our faith, but suffering also brings about an opportunity for us to serve others. Have you experienced God’s comfort in suffering? In case you’re wondering. You can absolutely experience God’s comfort. It’s available to you. The “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction . . .” Now that’s a promise. And not only that but you can comfort others with the comfort you received from God. Look again, closely this time, at the 2 Cor 1:3-5 text above. You’ll see that Paul suffered and was comforted, at least in part, so he could bring comfort to others when they were afflicted. Moreover, in and through our intimate relationship with Christ, we face the hardships of sin and death, but we also receive comfort from God. In reality, we are so intimately joined with Christ that our experiences flow from Christ through us to others.
Oh yes, my friends. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort”
A Work in Progress,