Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT (2 Corinthians Chapter 1)

2 Corinthians 1:3-7, “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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”

We sometimes need to be comforted.  Afflictions and sufferings of various kinds can work to bring us into a vulnerable and fearful estate.  In such situations, we might wonder “Does anybody care about what I’m going through?”  Our text assures us that God does.

The word “comfort” (and its relatives) appears ten times in these five verses.  The Greek term paraklesis means “a calling to one’s side” and hence represents “an exhortation, or consolation, comfort” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).

There is need for comfort because sin has left us in a vulnerable and needy condition.  Adam and Eve sinned against God and sin and death (and all its corresponding maladies) entered into man’s existence.  The “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” intervened on their behalf.  Though they had rebelled, He sought them out, made promise of a coming Redeemer, and mercifully worked to meet their immediate need (Genesis 3:9, 15, 21). 

Jesus was Heaven-sent from the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” to walk amongst us and to die for our sins (the preeminent demonstration of God’s loving concern; John 3:16; Titus 3:4).  In His ministry Jesus lovingly worked to comfort the afflicted--be they sick, blind, hungry, bereaved or otherwise in need.  He promised to impart comfort (i.e. rest of soul) to the “heavy laden” (Cf. Matthew 11:28-29).  His warning to his disciples of His pending departure left them troubled (Cf. John 14:1; 16:6).  “Believe in God, believe also in me” He said (John 14:1).  Then He comforted them with news of a future reunion and of God’s provision of the Holy Spirit (a Helper, a Comforter, like unto Himself) who would be with them forever (Cf. John 14:16).  The Father of Mercies and God of all comfort does indeed care!

The God of all comfort is the ultimate source of all comfort and were it not for Him there would be no comfort to be found in this sin-weary and troubled world.  He is the source and avails comfort to us in various ways to meet a host of needs.  He sometimes uses those who have been comforted by Him “to comfort those who are in any affliction” with the comfort they themselves have received from God (Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:4).

Paul himself had received comfort from God.  “Fighting without and fear within” left him weary and in need (Cf. 2 Corinthians 7:5).  God comforted Paul by sending to him Titus (Cf. 2 Corinthians 7:6).  Titus in turn had been comforted by the Corinthians and the news of their loving concern for Paul (Cf. 2 Corinthians 7:7).  Titus comforted Paul by his coming, but Paul traced the circumstance back to the God of all comfort.  Sometimes we are comforted by God through the comforting presence or words of others.

Thomas Brooks once wrote, “When we are in a very low condition, when we are spent with grief and swallowed up in sorrows, when we are destitute of all relief and comfort—then the God of all comforts comes to console us!  No tribulations, no persecutions, no grievances, no prison doors, no bolts, no bars—can keep the consolations of God from flowing in upon His people. God loves to comfort His people—when all their outward comforts fail them. God's comforts are not only sweet, but seasonable.”

There will come a day, in God’s presence, when “He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).  In the meantime, we have this assurance that God does indeed care and can work to heal our inner hurts.  He is not far from us or callous to our needs.  He comforts us and calls on us to pass it on.   You, or someone you know, has need of it.

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