God has strengthened and comforted me lately. In the midst of tragedy and dark days, He has carried me like a father carries His son. He has shown me that when I am dependent upon Him, deliverance will come, in one way or another (The God Of All Comfort).
God is a comforter.
It’s not just something He does, it’s part of the essence of who He is.
But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus – 2 Corinthians 7:6
God comforts the downcast.
God comforts me.
This comfort is not something that leads me into complacency. In fact, the comfort of God on my life is the very thing that drives me forward as a follower of Jesus. Or, according to 2 Corinthians, it should be.
Let’s look at the basis for this assertion real quick.
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 may 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
God comforts me and you in our affliction. That’s beautiful.
But there’s a call in this. We are comforted in affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.
In my 2 Corinthians journal (if you don’t have any of the ESV Scripture Journals, you’re missing out), I wrote to the side “God’s comfort of me should lead me to comfort others.” Now I’m probably not winning any awards for deep and poetic rhetoric, but that’s the unavoidable truth of this passage. It’s what has been in the back of my mind all week.
I live in a city that is full of people who are in need of comfort and strength, both inside and outside our churches.
The same is true for where you live.
If I’m receiving comfort of God while refusing to extend that same comfort to those around me, I’m missing the point.
When you look at 2 Corinthians 7:6, it’s cool to see that Titus got to be the face of comfort in the lives of Paul and Timothy. God comforted them via Titus.
God is the source of comfort, but you and I can be the face of it.
So, what types of people can we comfort?
Those Inside The Family of God Who Are In Trials
I pull out my phone, start to type out a message, but then quickly put it away. This happens again and again. Circumstances are weighing heavy on my heart, but taking the plunge to ask for prayer is decidedly difficult, even with trusted friends in my faith community.
We live in a church culture that sometimes makes it difficult to simply say “I’m in need.” As followers of Jesus who have been comforted by God however, we should strive to make our faith community one where people can be real honest about the battles they are facing. One of the enemy’s greatest tricks is convincing our brothers and sisters in Christ that the church is where you should pretend to have it all together.
I have a friend who texts me every once in a while with a simple “How can I be praying for you and your family?”. That simple text reminds me that there are men and women praying for me and my family. The more we can do that for others, the better.
What can you do to extend comfort and strength to those in your church who need it?
And remember, Paul and Timothy felt at the point of death itself (1:8), so it’s not weakness to admit you need help too.
Those Inside The Family of God Who Are In Sin
This is probably the group of people where I struggle with this the most. I see things in black and white, not much grey. But there are innumerable people in our churches who need strength and comfort in the midst of battling sorrow for their sin.
For the unrepentant habitual lifestyle of sin, there are hard words that need to be spoken.
But for the struggling mother, father, husband, wife, worker, friend, or neighbor who acknowledges their sin and desires to change, what they need is not a reprimand, but a word of comfort and strength.
so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. – 2 Corinthians 2:7
Paul is here addressing someone in the church at Corinth who had sinned, causing pain to many. Although I don’t know all the details of this situation (I love that there’s always more to study in the Bible), I find it interesting that Paul commands them to comfort him.
Our churches are full of sinners.
Sinners who see their sin but don’t see grace need to be strengthened and comforted.
Those Outside The Family of God Who Need Hope
Lastly, we should be comforters of those outside our walls that need hope to keep moving forward. Our world offers innumerable distractions and false gods to occupy the hopeless mind, but ultimately what every person needs is Jesus.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing – 2 Corinthians 2:15
What a weird term.
I am the aroma of Christ among those who are perishing (without hope).
So the extremely weird question we gotta ask is do people smell Christ when they’re around us?
I’ve sat in so many budget meetings and committee meetings and staff meetings in my short life, and while there is a place for them, arguments about money and preferences and plans fall short when it comes to spreading hope.
Side note: this verse doesn’t say that your pastor or your church or your men’s ministry is the aroma of Christ for your lost neighbors.
It’s supposed to be you!
In the wake of so many tragic situations in my city, I can’t help but ask myself regularly how I can continue imperfectly bringing hope to a world that needs it.
God can comfort and strengthen you.
He does that so that you can comfort and strengthen others.
In His Name,