Summary: We have been comforted by God as His children, therefore we should render comfort to others in need.
© 2000 Mark Beaird
Text: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
n Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."
It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, p. 11.
Having the song taken out of our hearts because of a trial can leave us feeling-well-let's just say, less than spiritual. Certainly it does not leave us feeling like reaching out to others in ministry. But actually, it is during or after those times that we are most able to minister to those around us who are hurting, struggling or in need of a compassionate listener.
The focus of this passage is not on suffering, as some might think, but rather it is on comfort. n "One of the key words in this letter is comfort or encouragement. The Greek word means "called to one's side to help." The verb is used eighteen times in this letter, and the noun eleven times. In spite of all the trials he experienced, Paul was able (by the grace of God) to write a letter saturated with encouragement." (Wiersbe) He starts his encouragement by pointing us to God.
I. BLESSED BE THE COMFORTER (v.3).
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…"NIV
A. He is the Father of mercies or compassion (v.3).
Literally, He is like a parent who has compassion on His child.
B. He is the God of ALL comfort (v.3).
n "What was Paul's secret of victory when he was experiencing pressures and trials? His secret was God. When you find yourself discouraged and ready to quit, get your attention off of yourself and focus it on God." (Wiersbe)
n Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed from the neck down while still a teenager, wrote, "You don't have to be alone in your hurt! Comfort is yours. Joy is an option. And it's all been made possible by your Savior. He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.
-- Joni Eareckson Tada, Christian Reader, Vol. 32, no. 2.
II. BLESSED BE THE COMFORTED (v.4a & c, 5-6).
A. We are comforted in all our trials (v. 4 a&c).
Sometimes our comfort comes in knowing that God is at work in our lives.
n Oswald Chambers writes, "A saint's life is in the hands of God as a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see; He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, "I cannot stand any more." But God does not heed; He goes on stretching until His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly." -- Oswald Chambers in The Love of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 12.
B. The more we are tried the more we are comforted.
C. Our affliction actually benefits others.
At least, our suffering is supposed to benefit others. The trials that we have been through enable us to testify of the goodness and provision of God from an experiential point of view. We can empathize with others.
n Jess Lair defined Empathy as, "Your pain in my heart."
n Someone has said, "God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters."
John Henry Jowett (1817-1893) -Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entries 1501-1503.