July 18, 2011

The God of All Comfort

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 will 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

Life is often very difficult. Any and every person that walks on the guilty sod of this fallen world will undoubtedly suffer – including, and especially, the followers of Jesus. For, "in this world you will have trouble," He tells us in John 16.33. But, as followers of Jesus, we have wonderful promises like that of 2 Corinthians 1.3-4 to bear us safely through. Consider that:

1. God is “the Father of mercies”! Our God, the “Father of the Lord Jesus”, is “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions”. We know that, more than any earthly Father, our Father in heaven longs to comfort us, His adopted children. "If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him" (Matthew 7.11). So allow Him to do just that in your day of trial. Go to Him in His word, and especially in the gospel of His dear Son, and allow Him to be for you the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort”.

2. God has a good purpose for your suffering! Our God “comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction”. We don't always (or ever) know all that God is doing through our suffering. But we know that He has promised that "all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8.28). And we can be sure of at least one of those good designs that God has for our suffering. We suffer – and, in turn, receive His comfort – so that, when we meet others who suffer, we have a testimony to share and the salve of Jesus Christ to pour into their wounds. Haven’t you found this to be true? God so often meets us in marvelous comfort … precisely so that we will have a story to tell that will be just the encouragement that someone else needs to help them hang on in faith! So see your sufferings, and your comforts, in that way. Keep a record of God’s faithfulness in them. And see that record of His faithfulness as a blessing, not only to you, but to who knows who else may someday need to hear it!

3. Our God should receive the praises of our lips precisely because He has a purpose in allowing us to suffer. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is an action word – “blessed”. And we are to actively, intentionally engage in blessing God … even in suffering! Because we know that God is always working in our lives according to His own good purpose, even when we suffer … we ought always to praise Him for His working in our lives, even when we suffer! God is always worthy of our praise …whether through our shouts of triumph or through our bitter tears. Why? Because God is always faithful. So we can "bless the Lord at all times" (Psalm 34.1) – even in suffering. We can "rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4.4) – even in pain. We can "give thanks in everything" (1 Thessalonians 5.18) – even and especially in affliction and loss.

So – those who are loved and who have been bought by Jesus Christ – rejoice when you suffer! The LORD, the Father of Jesus is “the God of all comfort”. And He will use your pain and comfort for the glory of His own holy Name. As John Piper has written:
For God's beloved naught is vain,
God does not waste the gift of pain.
Love and comfort to you in Christ.

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