“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1.1-7
As Paul begins his second letter to the church in Corinth, he does so with a greeting of grace and peace to the people all throughout Achaia by offering a word of comfort. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
Why would God begin this like? What were the Corinthians experiencing that they needed comfort? And what does it mean for God to be a God of all comfort? Paul tells us that God “comforts us in all our troubles” for a specific reason — “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
This, you might say, is comforting! It reflects a God who’s nature is love. Paul could be addressing any issue, any church or personal problem, but what he does is talk about an attribute of God that we don’t always put on display. We hear about his love, grace, forgiveness, mercy, judgement, but how seldom do we talk about his comfort?
Apparently the Corinthians are enduring suffering, persecution, separation and hardship. And so, God has Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit, speak to the heart and hurt and concern by offering comfort into the mix. We receive comfort from God so we can comfort others who are suffering. Paul writes, “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” Did you catch that? God doesn’t offer just a little comfort to our situations as his followers, it “abounds” through Christ.
God cares about his people. He cares about us. When we are suffering, he comforts us. Does it matter what brings us suffering? Is there any level of our hurt that God does not attend? Not at all. He knows the very hairs on our heads and even when the smallest sparrow falls to the ground and dies. God cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 says it best, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Why not trust in God’s comfort today? Call upon it by the power of his Holy Spirit. Ask him to attend to you, hold you in the midst of your grief and comfort you in your sufferings.
“O Lord God, we need your comfort. Life is not easy. We have disappointments and disasters. We have loss and suffering. But you are here and you are good. Your Spirit comforts us in our suffering and in our sorrow. There is no limit to the amount of comfort you provide those who love you. Help us to cast all our cares upon you knowing that you will lift us up. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen