“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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–7, ESV)
One night, several months ago, I was alone on a ministry trip. I sat in my motel room, having had a day of chest pain. It was one of those times when I had taken my extra shots of nitroglycerin and things had calmed but it wasn’t going away. I laid alone in my bed, thinking of going to sleep. I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t have the words, or the energy. But I needed the comfort of God. I laid there and the words that came out of my mouth were,
“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”
I hadn’t prayed this prayer for nearly 50 years. At once my soul quieted before God. I was okay with whatever he chose for that night. I rested him him. His comforting touch was real.
In Paul’s words above, we can hear God’s invitation to experience His comfort.
- His comfort flows from His nature. “He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” If you’ve ever been comforted it’s been from Him. When we know His comfort, we know something of God’s nature.
- Comfort is God’s response to our affliction. “who comforts us in all our affliction.” Without affliction, we would never experience the wonder of His comfort.
- The experience of affliction and comfort is part of our sharing in the life of Christ. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.”Affliction, when lived through with patient endurance is a life of oneness with Christ.
- God comforts us, so we can share comfort with others. When it comes to love, grace and comfort, we can only give from what we’ve received. “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort…”
When you find yourself afflicted, allow yourself to sit. Don’t demand relief, or resolution. Wait for His comfort. It may come in a whispered prayer, a verse of Scripture, or the prayer of a friend. Let him console you. Let him give you rest that will last through the night. And in the morning, you will have a gift to give another – the comfort you’ve received from God.