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Ministry of Comfort

2 Corinthians 3:1-11 is the great ‘comfort’ section in the Bible. No other portion of Scripture mentions the word more. The word occurs 10 times in 5 verses (1:3-7). The Greek word for comfort, παράκλησις, means to ‘come alongside.’ The English word ‘comfort’ comes from two Latin words: ‘com,’ ‘with,’ and ‘fort’ or ‘forte’ which means ‘strength.’ The idea is that you come alongside someone without strength and lend him some of yours. The Great Comforter is God Himself, the Father, or Source, of all mercies and comfort (1:3). He not only removes or ‘delivers’ believers from their problems (1:10; the word ‘deliver’ 3 times), but also gives understanding and comfort in the midst of the trial before He removes it. Therefore, Paul says: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28) and “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 is one of the great ‘suffering’ sections of the Bible. The words ‘affliction’ and ‘suffering’ occur 8 times in 5 verses (1:4-8), almost twice per verse again. The phrases ‘sentence of death’ and ‘peril of death’ occur also (1:9-10). Affliction refers to the inflicting of the hurt, and suffering refers to the experience of it. Believers are in a world that constantly makes them suffer. This is the life of the Christian: abundant affliction mingled with abundant comfort (1:5). However, affliction is not bad and suffering in the life of the Christian is no accident. Both come from Christ (1:5) and Paul blesses God for it (1:3). Whether we understand it or not, pain is God’s plan for the Christian: it makes him grow and brings him closer to God and to others.

Can we understand this? Yes. Paul gives 4 reasons. First, suffering in the life of the believer, even extreme affliction, shows off what God can do for His children. There is a saying: “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” In other words, when man can do no more and admits it, the good things that happen, one then attributes to the mercy, grace and power of God. God’s specialty is resurrection: giving life to dead things. When men are about to die (1:9), think their marriage is dead, think their other relationships are dead, think their chances of getting married are dead, think their chances for having children or getting a house are dead, then God acts. He comforts His children at all times (1:4), and gives new life to dead things for His glory when men’s resources and power are gone (1:9).

Is there more? Yes. Since God has resurrection power, we should trust Him more. That is what 1:9 says: “we should not trust in ourselves, but in God Who raises the dead.” Also, God lets believers go through suffering to make them better ministers: they can empathize with others more. This is what 1:4 says: God “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort” others with the comfort “with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Finally, affliction and suffering bring believers together, so they start praying for and rejoicing in answers not only for themselves, but for others (1:11).

Pain educates and softens: embrace the pain, come to God, comfort and serve others!

Sun, Sep 06, 2015

Ministry of Comfort