Comfort, for these early believers, was not just a theological point, a matter of doctrine; it was part of their experience of the Living God.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 the apostle Paul gives considerable attention to the subject of comfort. In this passage he uses the word “comfort” (in one of its forms) multiple times. His words tell us a number of important things.
First, we are told that comfort comes from God, Paul refers to the Father as “the God of all comfort” (NIV). Second, we are told that the Lord gives comfort to His people; it flows from Him to them. Paul speaks of the Lord comforting him and his fellow workers (note the word “us” in verse 4). They had personally experienced God’s comfort. Some of this, I am sure, came through direct personal encounters with Him in prayer.
Comfort, for these early believers, was not just a theological point, a matter of doctrine; it was part of their experience of the Living God. They had experienced the reality of God in the midst of their lives in a fallen world, a world in which things are not as they should be, or as most people would like them to be.
In addition to the usual problems that people encounter in the world, Paul and his friends’ decisions to follow and serve Jesus brought additional adversity their way. Many people opposed them because of the gospel message they brought; they suffered persecution as a result of their faith and ministry. However, in the midst of it all they were able to sense the comfort of God.
Paul’s teaching about comfort up to this point is very important but there is third aspect of it that I would like to call your attention to. In verse 4 Paul also says that he and his companions can comfort others with the comfort that they have received from God. This shows us two things.
First, there was enough comfort to go around. Second, God can use other people to bring His comfort to those in need. Paul and his coworkers were used by God to give His comfort to others. In 2 Corinthians 7:6-7 Paul writes about being on the receiving end of this kind of ministry. God ministered comfort to him and his companions through others.
He wrote, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him ”(NIV). Here again we see that the Lord can use people to bring His comfort to others.
Today if you are going through a difficult time and it seems as though God has not ministered to you through your personal time with Him don’t despair. He may yet meet you through the friendship or ministry of another person. Be on the lookout. Someone may be coming your way to personally deliver the divine comfort you need.
John P. Lathrop - United States
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.