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Archive for Comfort

“(God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

God is the source of all comfort and he comforts us when we face crushing pressure. But God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us so that we will become comforters.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection he spoke words of assurance to them. The Bible then tells us that Jesus showed them his scars. He comforted the disciples with his presence, and gave them an indellible reminder of his suffering. Though the image of Jesus’ scars is not referred to again in the New Testament story, one has to believe that with every blow of suffering the disciples experienced that the image of those scars comforted and encouraged them.

“He comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:4a, NLT)

God is the source of all comfort and he comforts us in our troubles. The word Paul used to describe our troubles is thilipsis, which means pressure. It’s a word picture for a wine press that crushes the juice out of the grapes. So we might say that troubles are the crushing pressures of life. When the crushing pressures occur, God comes to our side and comforts us.

How then does God comfort us? The Bible is not specific, but allow me to offer three thoughts that will help us understand what God’s comfort looks like. First, God comforts us though his presence. We are assured that God is nearby during the crushing pressures of life. Perhaps this is the reason that Jesus referred to the coming Holy Spirit as the paraklete, the one called alongside to help.

Second, the word comfort is in the present tense, meaning that his comfort is continuous. God’s comfort is not on again and off again. His presence is steady and ongoing.

Third, his comfort is sufficient for our need. 2 Corinthians 1:5 states, “For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (NLT) In other words, the more we suffer, the more we recognize God’s continual presence by our side. This is perhaps why we esteem those who suffer the most to have the closest relationship with Christ. As we suffer, Christ is revealed more and more in our lives.

How does God comfort us? God comforts us by revealing his continuous and sufficient presence in our lives.

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Scars tell stories. For example, I have a scar on the palm of my hand. I got it when I was around 10 or 11 years old from a bicycle accident. My friends and I loved to ride our bikes and every time we found a patch of loose gravel we would ride as fast as we could into the loose gravel and lock up the brakes and skid the tires and spin the bikes around. It was about as wild and reckless of behavior as we could muster! One evening I took the bike out for a quick spin and as you may have guessed, crashed. As I looked at my throbbing hand I saw gravel imbedded in my palm. There was a nice open gash which resulted in the scar that I bear in my hand to this day.

As I have said, scars are a part of the story of our lives. They communicate things about our lives and inform us of the nature of life as well. Scars give evidence of that we have been wounded at some point in the past. At the same time, scars also provide evidence of healing. We don’t remain perpetually wounded, for through time and care we experience healing. Scars serve as ongoing reminders of past experiences that provide lessons that can’t be learned any other way. We are transformed through those pains from the past. After all, scars change our appearance. The story of life is developed through each one of those transitions. Obviously some of our scars are physical. But not every scar we bear can be seen. Some of our deepest scars are on our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls.

For the past several weeks I’ve been teaching on the subject of suffering and adversity. This past weekend I concluded my portion of the teaching from Paul’s words to the Church at Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:3 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.”

We learn about pain early in life. Some of our earliest memories of life are associated with pain and injury. Quite naturally we sought comfort from a parent who would care for our bumps and bruises. When my kids were very young my wife always carried Band Aids with her where ever she went. Any good mother knows that a Band Aid will do wonders to quiet a child’s tears. I believe the band aid may very well be the universal symbol of comfort. In fact, if comfort flew a flag, the symbol on the flag would be the Band Aid.

Paul states that God is the source of all comfort and that God himself is the source of any comfort we know or experience in life. That’s easy enough. So what’s the definition of the word comfort? The word Paul used for comfort is paraklesis, which is also be translated as encouragement. We know from communication dynamics that face to face is the posture used when for things like teaching or even confronting. But paraklesis is not a face to face posture. The word literally means to be “called to one’s side.” Comfort is a side by side posture. Why is that important? When you are side by side you face the same thing at the same time in the same direction. I think we can understand comfort more fully if we think of it as a posture instead of an activity. Comfort is my expression of love toward others that has been perfected by personal experience.

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