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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Word: Comfort

Word: Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 The Message

When I think of the word comfort I don’t always associate it with the Christian life, at least not in the sense the world would associate it.

By definition, according to the Oxford Dictionary comfort is, “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” or to  “make something unpleasant, painful, or intense less serious or severe.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 gives us a very different view of 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 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.”

From the literal translation of the English Standard Version we hear the Greek word ‘paraklésis’ (or some form of that word like Comforted or comforting) ten times.

So…as I read and re-read it I started wondering if all of those words of comfort can be clarified a bit.

The Message version explains a few questions we might have when we read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 from a perspective of modern conversational English, “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.”

Here, the word comfort of God is described as God’s healing council at the end of verse 3. That gives us a specific sense of God’s provision of healing through the act of walking alongside us and guiding us with words of wisdom. From that we are reminded that we are never alone. The Spirit of God is continuously in a believer’s heart and mind and can effectively communicate with us.

When I was younger I struggled with what I thought was my inability to listen and hear. Older (and wiser) believers encouraged me to understand that my ‘job’ was to open my heart and mind to the Spirit. So instead I would pray (and still sometimes pray) and ask God to help me to remain open to the Spirit and listen well.

According to John 14:26 (the Spirit), “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26 does not say when we are obedient or when we are holy or when we are ultra focused on listening because we have been fasting and praying then we will hear the Spirit. While fasting and praying are good Spiritual Practices and I’ve found clarification at times when I fast and pray, those practices are not listed as a requirement to our hearing the Spirit.

What I have come to realize is that my desire to be open to the teaching of the Spirit and bringing to remembrance what Jesus said pleases God.

My desire for God pleases God.

The Message version also reminds us that when we want God and desire God, the Spirit is with us during hard times.

In addition to that, the Spirit often puts other believers in our path who encourage us and comfort us. I’ve been struggling with something from my past this week and I asked God to help me (even comfort me) with something that happened years ago. Just this morning a woman I’d met recently who is about 10-15 years my senior just happened to pass by and we started talking. She is a seasoned believer and after a while she shared part of her story of pain that happened to her many many years ago. It was uncanny…her story was identical to my story. But, because she is older she was able to tell me how God gave her a miracle and brought great healing in her life.

Her story brought me great comfort.

I think that’s what this scripture is talking about in The Message verse 6 when it says we will be, “given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching.”

God not only comforts our mind, and our heart inwardly, God sends other people our way who are sometimes older and wiser who share their story. That story gives us great hope and comfort because we perceive more healing and comfort are coming our way.

Know that this morning when she shared her story with me she did not know my story.

In the last part of today’s scripture we read that as we share our suffering (through God) we also share comfort.

Today the Spirit knew I needed comfort, and it was no accident that the woman passed by and spoke. One thing led to another and without knowing I was struggling with my past story, she shared about how God brought healing to her when she was further down the road.

This is how amazing God is…truly amazing. At the time she shared her story (which was identical to my story) I didn’t know I would be writing about how the Spirit comforts us today.

I did not know that God would use today’s scripture as a healing moment in my life today.

God is God, and only God knew how to orchestrate comfort for me. I think it also comforted the woman who shared her story because we both walked away praising God!

Spiritual Practice: Open your Heart

Tell God you are open to the movement of the Spirit. The God of all Comfort wants to bless you!

In God, Deborah


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