“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
In the process of spreading the gospel, Paul and his companions suffered many things which he lists in 2 Corinthians 11. There must have been plenty of times where he thought it was the end for him, but God carried him through whether it was lack of food and shelter, physical assaults, wrongful imprisonment, or threatening weather. Paul was able to look back and see how God was merciful and gave him comfort no matter what hardships life threw at him. The comfort he received was encouragement for him personally in his walk with Christ, but it was also for the benefit of other believers. He was able to testify from personal experience to other Christians who faced difficult times that God would deliver them no matter what their circumstance.
If we live long enough on this earth we will face some kind of trouble. Job testified to this when he said “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” But as a follower of Christ it’s a joy to realize that we don’t go through trying times all by ourselves. Whether we have to face the death of a loved one, hatred from racists, persecution for being a Christian, sickness, loss of a job, or whatever bad thing life hurls our way, God has a comfort to match it and surpass it. He’s the God of all comfort. The Lord loves us enough to be concerned about everything that concerns us, so he comforts our spirits by his Holy Spirit to encourage us to press on. Once we make it through, we can give him the glory he deserves and our faith in him grows stronger.
However, the Lord doesn’t just give us comfort for our own benefit. The comfort we receive is like a spiritual gift to be shared with others. Now that we know God has power to deliver us from trouble, when our paths cross someone who is going through the same or similar situation (which it will), we can tell them how God is a very present help in the time of trouble. We can testify to the fact that weeping may endure for a night, but hold on, because joy comes in the morning! We can give testimony of how the Lord is our shield and the lifter up of our head! Praise God!
Our testimony can be much needed encouragement to a fellow saint, but can also be a tool to introduce Jesus Christ to someone who is lost. This is why it is so important for us to be alert of who is around us and what their needs may be. The Holy Spirit could prompt us at any time to approach someone to speak a word in season or to be swift to hear them and slow to speak, depending on the situation.
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19)
–Harry A. Gaylord–