“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, KJV)
I heard of a man who was in a serious accident and had to have his leg amputated. He went into a state of depression. Lying in the hospital bed, he would not talk to anyone. The doctors tried to reason with him that he would make it with a prosthetic device, but he did not want to listen. The nurses tried to encourage him, to no avail. His family, tried to reinforce their love for him but this did not change a thing. He remained in his depressed state and did not want to speak with anyone.
Later, a man cam into the room. He tried to speak with the man, but the man rejected him also. Then the man sat down in a chair, rolled up his pantleg and removed his prosthetic leg. At seeing this, the man in the bed opened his mouth and said, “Now, let’s talk.” The only one who could get through to the man was another who had been in the same situation.
Paul began this letter to the Corinthian church, writing about comfort in times of tribulation. The word, “tribulation,” thliipsis, refers to pressure both literally and figuratively (Strong G2347). It can refer to any type of hardship, burden, struggle, or trouble. It might be pressure caused by a physical, financial, relational, or emotional issue. Here, relating to Paul’s ministry it likely included the persecution and struggles he endured in the work of preaching the gospel. Paul indicated there was a source of great comfort in times of tribulation, and that there was also tremendous purpose in undergoing tribulation.
Paul began by presenting the source of true comfort, stating that God is “the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation.” The word translated “comfort,” paraklesis, comes from the verb “comforteth,” parakkaleo, which means to call near (Strong G3874, G3870). God’s comfort, heavenly comfort is always near every believer who is in distress. The comfort that God gives is not like the comfort of the world which cannot truly express the infinite love and empathy that God has for His children. God’s love for believers results in comfort that fills the soul of the hurting. The results cannot be explained naturally, but can be seen in believers going through deep waters. As a pastor, I have seen so many people in times of trial possessing a supernatural peace that goes beyond human reasoning.
Yet, Paul goes on to say that there is a purpose in suffering and experiencing God’s comfort. It is so those who have experienced it “may be able to comfort” others with the same comfort that they received from God. While I pastored in New Hampshire, one of our parishioners gave birth to a stillborn child. You can imagine that this woman was distraught. I went to the hospital to do what I could to comfort her. Yet, what truly helped her was another woman in the congregation who years earlier went through the same trauma. She ministered comfort to that woman in a way that no other could.
If you are going through deep waters today, understand that God is with you to comfort you in it. He has not left you alone, and He will not. Seek Him for comfort in your time of need. Pray and tell Him how you hurt. He already knows it, but He wants to hear from you about it. He has His arms of love around you through the trial and He will not let go.
For those who have gone through the trial, God has a plan for you. There is a day coming when you will encounter another going through the same thing that you have encountered. It is a ministry opportunity for you to bless another with the same comfort with which God comforted you.