Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
In reading through the life of the apostle Paul, we see a great many circumstances marked by the crushing conflict he faced, both within the walls of the church and out in the world. Yet through it all, he makes it crystal clear that God is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in every challenging circumstance we face. Why? Our Lord does not do it to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters for others who are encountering challenging times of their own.
We can and should expect challenging circumstances to arise outside the church. But as we see in the life of Paul, we should not be surprised when conflict confronts us inside the church also. There was a rebellious minority in the church at Corinth that made life difficult for everyone, Paul in particular. They accused Paul of everything from personal pride to mental instability. They even denigrated his looks and his manner of speaking, saying “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing” (2 Corinthians 10:10). But through it all, Paul looked up instead of out, and he trusted God to carry him through every wave of challenge that washed over him.
And Paul understood the primary reason why God sustained him: so that through the comfort God provided to him, he could draw strength to comfort others.
Can the same be said about you? Looking back over your life, can you see how often God has comforted you in challenging times? To be sure, the compassion of Christ has brought you through some very uncomfortable circumstances; you may even have emerged from them feeling quite comfortable! But being comfortable is not God’s ultimate goal for bringing us through difficult circumstances; being a comforter to others is.
Who in your life right now needs to experience the compassion of God through the comfort you can provide? Perhaps a word of encouragement is needed? Maybe a personal visit to deliver a hug or a holy kiss? How about an unexpected call from you to share the love of Christ? Remember, God has faithfully brought you cosmic comfort over the years, time and time again—not to make you comfortable, but to make you a comforter for His glory and the good of others. Why not bring some of the comfort of Christ to someone in need today? I promise, you will be glad you did . . . and they will be too!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!