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The God of All Comfort

by Troy Spradlin

On any given Sunday, pews and chairs of churches around the world fill up with faithful brethren coming together to worship our great and eternal God. It is always a wonderful thing to see the body of Christ, the "ekklesia," assembled in unison for the purpose of glorifying the Father in spirit and truth. What we may not always realize, however, is that behind many of those smiling faces are souls who are hurting deeply. So many are suffering internally from chronic pain, relationship heartaches, emotional distress, bouts of depression, or any multitude of mental and physical afflictions. But they often don't let it show. The world brings no comfort to such hearts suffering within, but the church certainly can and does. That is because God is a god of comfort - of "all comfort."

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote, "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." (1:3-4) If there was ever anyone who might fully understand the comfort which God provides, it would be Paul, himself. In all his travels, he never knew if he might not be alive the next day because of the many threats leveled against him. He experienced perils beyond what the average person might ever experience in an entire lifetime (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Yet, he could pen these words with all confidence and faith because he, no doubt, experienced the incredible comfort that comes from our God. A comfort he wants you and me to know about.

The word "comfort" in this passage is the Greek word "paraklesis." The meaning behind this word is more than just offering some passing sympathy. It has more to do with the idea of strengthening and building up someone. It literally means "to call near, or to summon (to come alongside)," which implies exhorting, encouraging, and consoling another. To put this into practice, it means going to someone in need and being right there beside them. That is what Paul says God does for us. He is the God of being there beside us. He consoles us, builds us up, and encourages us. So, Paul here considers the Father a "Paraclete" (the noun form of the word). We know from passages like John 14:16,26, 15:26, and 16:7, that the Holy Spirit is also called our "Helper/Comforter" (which is the same word, paraclete). Reading 1 John 2:1, we see that Jesus is sometimes called "our Paraclete" (translated as "Advocate" in most versions). In other words, God is full of comfort, strength, and help for us in every aspect of His being!

So, how do we access the comfort of God? How does He come alongside us? Here are a few things to consider:

  • God's comfort is found in Scripture."Comfort cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) Okay, I know your Bible doesn't actually say that, it says "faith," but doesn't our faith provide comfort? And since that faith is developed through learning God's will, then the Bible is the true source of comfort. When we read the Psalms, the Gospel accounts, and the promises of the heavenly abode found in Revelation, it certainly comforts us and provides that "peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7).

  • God's comfort is found in His church. The church is described as a body in the Bible and just like the human body, each member is important and needed in its overall function, protection, and care. One of the greatest sources of comfort is found among your brethren in the local congregation. (1 Thess 4:8; 1 Pet 3:8).

  • God's comfort is found in worship. Recognizing God as sovereign in our adoration, singing praises to His matchless name, and participating in the Lord's Supper reminds us of His love for us which should be a great source of comfort. We serve a mighty God Who is always in control (Josh 1:9; Ps 22:28, 55:22; John 16:33).

  • God's comfort is found in serving others. Helping others and seeing that they hurt and suffer, too, often helps us deal with our own pain more constructively (Gal 5:13, 6:2,10; James 5:16; 1 Pet 4:10).

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