“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. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
One of the timeless truths from God’s Word is that while the believer in Christ encounters tribulations in this life, and the subsequent grief, these tribulations and griefs are not purposeless. The Apostle Paul writes that God does not waste any effort in comforting us in all of our affliction. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “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.”
Two key words are found in 2 Corinthians 1:4. They are “affliction” and “comfort.” No two words would appear to be so unrelated to each other and yet God joins them together for a productive purpose.
The word comfort (παρακαλῶν; parakalon) means to encourage and to console. It appears not only as a verb but also as a noun in this text. That means that not only is God an encourager and consoler but believers in Christ are to be as well. We can be an encourager and a consoler to others with the same encouragement and consolation God gave us.
Note that God’s encouragement and consolation occurred while we were, and perhaps are, in the midst of affliction. Affliction (θλίψει; thlipsis) means trouble, distress, suffering and persecution. It is pain. However, God promises to comfort us in all of our affliction. Not just some, but all.
Who better to console someone who has endured the death of a child, or grandchild, than someone who has experienced the very same affliction? Who better to comfort a person stricken with breast cancer than one who has encountered that same disease? Who better to comfort a family encountering a prodigal than a family who has felt the pain of a wayward child or parent?
There have been several people who have approached my family with encouragement and comfort in these recent days. Those who have especially touched us were those who told us they knew what we were going through because they too had experienced the death of a stillborn child and grandchild. This resulted in a spoken, and unspoken, bond of comfort and understanding.
Dr. Joel Beeke writes, “Every morning for several months, my wife and I walked past an injured Canada goose, whose feathers stuck out in several directions. For all those months, several geese dutifully stayed with the injured bird. Likewise, caring for the wounded is the church’s loving duty to her own. Paul teaches us that when one member of Christ’s body suffers, “all the members suffer” (1 Cor.12:26 KJV). Caring for the grieving promotes the unity of the body of Christ and fosters the communion of saints. Furthermore, grieving saints have a claim on our compassion for Christ’s sake (Matt. 25:40).”
I may not know exactly how, and in what situations, God has comforted, encouraged and consoled you while you were, or are, in the midst of affliction. However, the Scriptures tell us that you can use that God given consolation to console others who are experiencing what you have experienced.
May all of us be a source of comfort and encouragement today to someone in the midst of affliction.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!