Our community is experiencing unspeakable grief. A young man became a hardened, merciless killer overnight in our city, killing at least a dozen and injuring several dozen more. Grief and confusion abound. People are struggling for answers.
It is transparently clear that this exemplifies a symptom of sin-sickness in society, but that observation will not bring back a single victim or undo this horrific crime. What we have right now is an opportunity to share with the fearful and hurting the God of all comfort.
Paul so describes Him in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. In those few verses alone, Paul uses the word comfort 10 times. Look at the different ways Paul assures us of God’s comfort, which will help us in traumatic circumstances like these.
God’s comfort is comprehensive (3). Apart from Him, man is ultimately comfortless. He is the God of all grace (Rom. 15:5), but He’s also the God of all comfort. Nowhere else we go to find it is legitimate, apart from Him. The Bible uses two metaphors to describe His comprehensive comfort, first of a shepherd (Isa. 40:11) and the second is that of a mother (Isa. 66:13). This is fitting, since God is both gentle and strong, nurturing and protecting.
God’s comfort is plentiful (5). Jesus said He came to bring us abundant life (Jn. 10:10). Abundance is a key word in 2 Corinthians. It means to be more than enough, with some left over. We may often see abundant poverty and suffering, but even when there’s suffering, hardship or trial we can be confident that “God’s grace is sufficient for us” (2 Cor. 12:7).
God’s comfort is located (5). Comfort literally means “to call to one’s side.” If all comfort is available only in God, it makes sense that we must answer the call to walk by His side to have it. Paul says God’s promises are fulfilled through Christ, including the promise of comfort (1:20). So, I must be in Him and right with Him to have comfort through Him.
God’s comfort is effective (6). It is effective in the patient enduring of what we suffer. God will deliver us, but biblical comfort is not simply an emotional sedative or anesthesia. David Garland has said, “God’s comfort strengthens weak knees and sagging spirits so that one faces the troubles of life with unbending resolve and unending assurance.” We can be like the little boy, separated from his mom in the mall. He was looking around for her and getting scared. He began to cry because everyone was a stranger, everything looked so confusing, and every store was packed. He didn’t have his Mom. Suddenly, his mom found him and picked him up. He stopped crying, not because his surroundings changed, but because of whose arms he was in. What makes God’s comfort effect is that God’s the one offering it!
May we find comfort from the God of all comfort at this trying time!