The God of All Comfort – John Baker

The God of All Comfort – John Baker

We need to remember that God really is, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). As 2 Corinthians opens, the Greek word for “comfort” or “consolation” is found 10 times in just five verses (2 Cor. 1:3-7). Consider the following questions:

What is “comfort?”

We must make an important distinction between our modern notion of “comfort,” and what the Bible term indicates. In modern English, “comfort” means, “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain, constraint, or distress.” However, the Greek word paraklesis (“comfort, consolation”) means, “to embolden another in belief, resolve, and assurance.” To comfort someone in the sense of 2 Corinthians 1 is to say and do things that will fortify their soul, strengthen their spirit, and encourage their heart. To comfort someone is to come alongside them and bless them in practical, tangible ways by means of both words and deeds. It is to refresh one’s heart and to give new strength for serving the Lord faithfully (cf. Phile. 7, 20).

Who gives comfort?

Second Corinthians 1:3-7 points to one ultimate source of comfort in the life of a believer: God Himself. He is, “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Through His word, God brings grace and hope to our souls (Acts 20:32; Josh. 1:7-9). Through His divine providence, God uses people and circumstances to encourage and bless His servants (Rom. 8:28-29; Phil. 2:25-30). Even more wonderful, the Scripture says, “Our consolation also abounds through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:5). This means Christians can have assurance that God will continually be a source of strength and encouragement because of what He has accomplished in Jesus. God will never cease to provide abundant strength, encouragement, and blessing to Christians who are in need. All that remains is for us to believe in His goodness toward us, and to look for His provisions on our behalf (Rom. 8:32). Oh, for the faith to trust Him more!

How does He give comfort?

First, God tends to give strength, encouragement, and fortification in the moments and circumstances when we need it, not before. Paul says, “He comforts us in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 1:4). This “just in time” approach keeps us from trusting too much in our own abilities, wisdom, strength, and experience to see us through tribulations. Second, God gives comfort “abundantly” (2 Cor. 1:4, 5). Like the 12 baskets of bread left over when the Lord fed the 5000, God always seems to provide in greater abundance than our capacity to receive (John 6:13; Eph. 3:20-21). Third, sometimes God comforts us by delivering us from affliction, and sometimes He comforts us in our ongoing affliction. At times, Paul found himself comforted, strengthened, and encouraged by God even though he remained a prisoner in chains (Phil. 1:12-14, 19-25). Fourth, God often comforts us by means of His people, the church: “He 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” (2 Cor. 1:4). When other Christians express care and concern for us, we are to see it as God’s comfort for our hearts and souls (2 Cor. 7:6-7; 11:28-29).

Why does He give comfort?

God gives comfort to His people to remind us that He is on our side; He is “for us” (Rom. 8:31). How wonderful to realize that God deeply cares about what we are experiencing (1 Pet. 5:7). God also gives comfort to enable us to bring comfort to others (2 Cor. 1:4, 6). Job’s friends were “miserable comforters” because they lacked sensitivity and mercy toward their friend (Job 16:2). God’s comfort teaches us to be better comforters. We learn how to encourage better because we know what it is like to be discouraged, and we learn how to strengthen people by knowing what it is like to feel weak and frail. A final reason why God comforts us is do deepen our faith in His power. When God brings encouragement and strength to His people, we can say, “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

Blessed be the God of all comfort. He never fails to provide just what His