Summary: When we pray, God comforts us. When God comforts us, he does so not just to make us comfortable, but to enable us to comfort others with the comfort He has given us
How do you feel when you experience the first real snowfall of the season? Not to long ago, we had our first significant snowfall. I can remember my reaction. I ran outside with a childish smile on my face just to see and feel the snow as it fell on my face. There was electricity in the air. I don’t know why. There’s just something about that first layer of white, pure, virgin snow that covers up all the brown, dry, dead leaves and grass. It transforms the landscape to a winter wonderland. Your big picture window transforms from a drab picture of naked, dead trees and grass to a giant, winter postcard. Of course, many of us went out to go play. I know I did. My boys and I went to Stubby park with our sleds and flat things to go slide down the hill. It was a blast. The hillside was full of children and adults both enjoying the reinvigorating white covering over the earth.
We have been spending time looking at how to get our Spiritual snowfall. You know, those things that reinvigorate us spiritually. We have already looked at how both blaming others, complaining, and investing your life in what may seem to give the illusion of filling your life with satisfaction all are dead ends. We have noted how Jesus took time to slow down, contemplate and consider. We saw how the slowing down was for the purpose of prayer and getting in touch with God.
What God does when we make a habit of getting in touch with him.
So what happens when we do slow down and get in touch with God? What happens when we begin to develop a better rapport with God through a lifestyle of prayer? Notice what Luke tells us happened when Jesus prayed.
Luke 22:39-43 – “And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation. And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.”
Notice that it was his custom to pray. Because of his healthy prayer life – because of his habit of slowing down to contemplate and consider – because he was in touch with God - Jesus found the strength he needed in order to carry out God’s purposes in his life AND in his death. That’s what God does when we pray. That is why they say prayerless is powerless BUT prayerful is powerful. That’s why Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
To strengthen is part of God’s character. Notice 2 Cor 1:3
2 Cor 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,”
God is the God of all comfort. So what does this mean? If he is the God of all comfort, does that mean he makes us comfortable? What happened to Jesus when he prayed in Gethsemane? Did God send an angel to make Jesus comfortable? Did the Angel bring him an arm chair and a remote and tell him to kick back and relax? Most of us know better. So exactly what does this mean?
I personally do not like most of our English translations of this passage because there are better words to convey what is being said here. The word translated “comfort” is paraklesis. It means encouragement, exhortation, comfort or consolation. What does the word “encouragement” make you think of? Notice that it is a form of the word “courage.” To en – courage someone is to build up their courage, or to strengthen them as the angel did when Jesus was praying. That’s what this passage is saying. God is the God of all encouragement. I like the way Today’s English Version renders it –
“Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father , the God from whom all help comes!”
This echoes some of the great Psalms, which declare God as our “’azar” (help). Psalm 121 declares “My help comes from the Lord.” That is what Paul is declaring in 2 Cor 1:3 when he blesses God as the “God of all help.”
But God the Father is not the only one who helps us. We were given what Jesus calls a "parakletos (helper)", in order to give us encouragement (paraklesis). Jesus speaks of him in John 14-16. He refers to the Holy Spirit as the “parakletos” the helper (some Bibles translate comforter). According to Eph 3:16 the ministry of the Spirit involves being strengthened with inner power so that we can be made equal to the task God gives us. Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Galatians 5 tells us that the Spirit bears the fruit of Christian character in our lives.