“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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
What comes to mind when we think of the word “comfort”? Maybe we think of fluffy couches, pillows and mattresses? Or maybe we think of the word “comfort” as a temporary relief from distress or anguish? All of these examples are applicable to the general usage of the word comfort but what is Paul talking about when he uses this word in relation to God?
Paul’s opening statement begins with a doxology that ascribes to God the attributes of mercy and comfort. Notice in verse 3 that Paul recognizes God as being the “Father” of mercies. The reason any human being has to ability to express and receive mercy is for the simple fact that God is the creator of mercy; it originates from God’s own nature. Mercy is a characteristic of God’s being that is reflected by his creatures. Therefore, every human being has an intuitive awareness of mercy since they are created in His image. Paul rightly understood that without God there would be no mercy or any logical reason to receive or express mercy.
Moreover, God is the God of “all” comfort. There is not a single thing in this world that can prevent God from comforting us. There is no circumstance or situation that He cannot provide comfort for. But notice another reason why God comforts us in our afflictions; we are to reciprocate that same comfort to others. So this comfort that we receive is not only for our own personal benefit but also for the benefit of others that God places in our lives. Can you recall an experience in your own life where God comforted you during a particular hardship and then you were able to comfort someone else who was going through something similar with that same comfort you received? Consider this quote: “God does not comfort us to make us comfortable but to make us comforters.”
If you are facing a difficult trial or circumstance I implore you to run to the arms of the One who cares for you. Don’t try to find comfort in things that will only satisfy the weary soul for a moment. Rather, run to the One who gives true comfort to those who are in distress, pain, suffering, afflicted, etc. The Greek word for comfort is the word paraklesis. The prefix para means besides or near. The prefix klesis comes from kaleo which means to call or invite. So paraklesis basically means to call near or invite you to come alongside. God invites those who are in need of comfort to draw near to Him so that they can find true rest from all of their troubles. This does not mean our troubles will disappear while we are still in this world, but it does mean that his grace and comfort will allow us to persevere through life’s storms as we wait for the day of our glorification. But for the time being, may the God of all comfort bring comfort to our burdened souls, and may he use that same comfort he gives to us to comfort others around us.