Summary: It is one thing to have comfort when the sun is shining. But what we really need is comfort in the time of trouble. Then we can comfort others. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
God of All Comfort
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort [2Cor. 1:3].
The word for "blessed" is actually praise -- Praise be to God.
David put it like this: "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Ps. 34:1). That ought to get rid of the complaining of the saints. We are to praise the Lord. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me . . ." (Ps. 50:23).
Now Paul calls Him "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort." I want to stop here and spend a little time on three words: love, mercy, grace.
So much is being said today about love. It is sloppy theology to say that God saves us by His love. Now it is true that God loves us. Oh, how He loves us! We just don't know how much He loves us. It would break our hearts if we could comprehend how much God loves us. But God does not save us by His love. The Scriptures teach that we are saved by God's grace.
Now what is grace? We call it unmerited favor, which means that God saves us on a different basis than merit. God loves us, but He does not save us by His love. He saves us by His grace. Why? Because He is also the God of all mercies -- the Father of mercies. Mercy means that God so loved us that He provided a Savior for us because He couldn't save us any other way. Anything that we have today is a mercy from God. He is the Father of mercy. In fact, He is said to be rich in grace and rich in mercy.
Do you need any mercy today? If you need money, you go to a bank to get it. If you need mercy, go to the One who is the Father of mercies. If you need any help, go to Him. After all, anything and everything that you have today is a mercy from God. You don't deserve it. I don't deserve anything that I have. I don't have much, but what I have is a mercy of God.
God was merciful to put me into the ministry. You don't know me like I know myself. If you knew me as I know myself, you wouldn't listen to me. Wait a minute -- don't cut me off. If I knew you like you know yourself, I wouldn't be talking to you. I would quit right now. You see, you and I have been extended mercy, and I am in the ministry because of the mercy of God.
Not only is He the Father of mercies, He is also the God of all comfort. You can test that in the crucible of life. Suffering is the acid test. He is the God of all comfort. He will comfort you in the hospital. He will comfort you at the funeral home when you have a loved one there. He can comfort you in any place at any time. He is the God of all comfort.
There is an authentic comfort, and there is a counterfeit one. I don't like to hear people sigh and say, "God has permitted this to come to me and I accept it," when they don't accept it but rebel against it. Be honest with God. Tell Him how you feel. Tell Him you don't like what is happening to you. He knows all about it anyway. He wants you to talk frankly with Him. Comfort can be genuine or fake.
There is a popular notion that comfort is some sort of saccharine sweet sentimentality with a note of weakness. I can remember that when I was a little fellow I was always falling down and skinning my knees. I always wondered why my mother didn't put me in long pants, but she never did. When I'd skin my knee, she would kiss it and say, "It's all well now." She kidded me into thinking it was well and I would quit crying. Now that is sentiment; it's sweet and lovely. But now I'm of age and she can truly comfort me with the truth when I need it.
People turn to all sorts of things for comfort. There is a whiskey called "Southern Comfort." Well, I'm a Southerner, but that is not a comfort, my friend. That will ruin a home. Others turn to drugs for comfort, but there is no comfort there.
The Greek word for "comfort" is parakaleo, which means "to call alongside of." The Holy Spirit is called the Paraclete. He is called to our side. When the Lord Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, He said, "I will not leave you comfortless . . ." (John 14:18). The word He used there is orphanos -- "I will not leave you orphans. I will send the Comforter to you, the Paraclete." He said to His own men, ". . . It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7).