THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Princeton Christian Church 29 January 2023
We all go through difficulties, but the difference in how we come out of those difficulties depends upon who we depend upon for strength, comfort, and peace. Who do we depend upon? Maybe a better question is who can we depend upon for strength, comfort, and peace through our difficulties? Well, there is one we can depend upon. And that is the God of all comfort. He is the “Father of Compassion” for us, and He is the "God of all comfort" for us.
God comforts us in our trouble so that we can bring the love of God and comfort others.
1 Corinthians 1:3-7
Let me tell you a very simple little story. It is one that I'm sure every person in this room can understand... A young child is playing with his friends at the park on the playground. He falls, skins his knee, and comes running, crying, to his mom, who is sitting on a park bench. The wound feels practically unbearable to the child, so he screams in pain. But the mother holds him close and comforts him, telling him that it's going to be okay. "Shh. Shh. Quiet now. Mommy's here." Eventually, he calms down, tears still running down his cheeks, but his pain is more bearable because his mom is here with him. He knows he will be okay, just like she said. He trusts her. She cleans off the scrape and bandages the boo-boo, sealing it with a kiss (which makes everything better). And the boy is off playing as if nothing ever happened.
A mother's gentle touch is one that comforts. A mother's voice is one that reassures the child. A mother's presence calms the child. A mother's compassion has healing powers.
Each of us has probably experienced love like those as small children. But how much more precious is the love and comfort God gives us through our suffering, our pain, our hurts, and our sadness?
Do you believe that God can touch each heart and bring us comfort in our time of need? Do you believe that God's voice can reassure us and bring us encouragement in our times of doubt and questions?
Do you believe that His holy presence is here to calm His child in the midst of overwhelming pain and heartache? Do you believe that God has compassion for His people going through difficulty and that He is willing and able to heal, to deliver them through it? Is that your God? If he is, and I know He is, He is deserving of our praise today.
So, this morning I want us to look at that title in verse 3 of 1 Corinthians, chapter one. That title is “The God of All Comfort.” Because I think all of us could use a little comfort today, don't you?
2 Corinthians chapter one verses 3-7:
This letter was written by the Apostle Paul just a few years before his first imprisonment in Rome and during the reign of Emperor Nero. It was written to the Church in Corinth.
And in this first part of his letter, he gives praise to God who is compassionate and comforts him in suffering for the gospel.
In verse eight he says, "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God..."
You probably have heard it said many times, these words: "God will never give you more than you can handle."
But, did you know that that is not a true statement, according to Scripture? I have said it myself, I’m sure, but this is not true. It is not scriptural.
God does allow us to face things that are too big for us all the time. Now, why would a loving, caring God do that? Is it because He is really a cruel God? Is it because He wants to punish us? No, is for neither of those reasons.
It is because He wants us to rely on Him, and not on ourselves. If the things we face are never more than we can handle, then why would we need to seek help from God? Why pray or cry out to Him in our struggles? Why would we need Him?
After all, we can handle it ourselves, can't we? But what happens when the difficulty, the circumstance, the hardship is bigger than you or me, too big for us to handle, and the questions have no easy answers? What then? There is truth in the statement that “We are not as strong as we think we are." We're not. Oh, we try to be. We try to handle the situation on our own. But, why when God is there like a compassionate Father, with His arms wide open to bring help and comfort to us in our difficult times?
Paul speaks of a hardship he has endured. He never tells us what that hardship was. But whatever it was must have been especially difficult. We're not told what this hardship was that Paul faced, but whatever it was, it must have been extremely difficult and heartbreaking.
It must have been a time of great sorrow. It must have been a time when Paul had questions, he had no answers to. Why would we think that? Because of the way he describes it. "We despaired even of life” "We thought we would never live through it." “We gave up on living.”
That's some hard stuff, isn't it? That's serious. Maybe it was persecution. There were many times throughout Paul's ministry that he faced this. Many times, throughout his missionary journeys, he was in danger of dying.
One time he was taken to the edge of the city and stoned almost to death, but God kept him alive. He'd been whipped, imprisoned, left to die, and constantly on the run from those who wished to kill him. He was frequently under intense pressure. Can you imagine the stress he must have been under? And there were times he was greatly afraid.
Many believe that Paul suffered from a physical ailment that made serving God difficult. You may remember Paul spoke of the “thorn in his side.
But what gave was it that gave Paul great hope in all these dire circumstances? What gave him comfort?
The answer to those questions is this: Paul knew the Father of Compassion and the God of all Comfort:
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV - New International Version)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
The word “comfort” is seen several times in those verses. So, there is literally a lot of comfort happening there.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
The Bible teaches us that God is our Heavenly Father. This passage here in 1 Corinthians 1:3-7 reminds us that when we are hurt, He is a compassionate father. He's not the kind of father that just tells us to toughen up and stop whining. He hurts with us. He's not afraid to cry with us. He's not too busy to listen. And He's there. He's there in your struggle. He's a compassionate father.
Compassion carries with it the idea that God has deep feelings for us as we go through difficulty or misfortune. He cares. He's not indifferent. Every trial or difficult day we have is important to God. He wants to hold you up in your struggle, in your hurt, and in your pain. He's compassionate.
And He is the God of all comfort. This is interesting because some comforts are not good for us. Some comforts are comforts we shouldn't seek. So how could God be the God of ALL COMFORT?
What does that mean? Well, we can think of it in a couple of separate ways.
For one, the word “all” can mean complete, as in ultimate comfort, or never being uncomfortable. When other comforts fail or are temporary, God is always there and will never fail you.
Another way to think about it is, that all comfort means that He is all you need for comfort and peace. Sometimes we seek almost everything else but the thing we most need. And that which we need most is God Himself. He is all comfort.
And He comforts us in all of our troubles. So, we need to give Him praise!
Are you thankful for God's comfort right now? Do you allow Him to be the comfort in all of your troubles? Do you run to Him as a child runs to his mother? Or do we more often run to other things for comfort?
Paul said that he was thankful. He praised God for being that compassionate Father and God of all comfort in all of his many troubles.
To Comfort Others:
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NIV - New International Version) Paul speaks there that as God comforts us in our troubles, we need to be ready to comfort others in their troubles.
4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Why does God comfort us? Well because He loves us, right? Yes. We are His beloved children, but He also has an even greater purpose in mind.
You see we are promised that in this world we will have what? Trouble. But we can be encouraged because Christ has overcome the world.
So, through Him, we can overcome too. And how many times has God taken things that the devil meant to harm us and used them for good?
How many times have our troubles in life, our experiences in life where God has brought us through it, and it has given us a testimony that becomes the source of encouragement for others who are going through it too?
You see, God uses us to be His hands and feet, His loving arms to hold, His shoulders to cry on, His ears to listen, and His words of mercy and hope.
The comfort that you have received from God becomes a source of comfort for others. Your hardship and your hurt have a wonderful purpose in that! As you trust in God through this time, your test becomes a testimony to others that there is hope in hardship.
We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. And that is the wonderful thing about our comforting God. We pass the comfort along.
He has and will deliver us:
2 Corinthians 1:10-11 (NIV - New International Version)
10 He has delivered us from so great a peril of death and will deliver, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 You also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Did you hear the power of hope in these verses? He has delivered us, and He will deliver us again. Do you hear that? Do you get that? That is confidence and full dependency on a God who comes through to help His people!
Paul is saying there - God has been faithful. He has helped us before. He has been our anchor in the time of the storm. He has been our comfort and healer. He has been our peace and strength. And He will be again! He will be again.
And he says: “On Him, we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.”
Do you today, trust in Jesus this morning? Do you know Him as your compassionate Father, your God of all comfort, and your deliverer? Is He the One who always delivers?
You see, Paul is using this as a testimony to the Corinthian believers who may be going through some difficulty of their own. He is saying, "Trust in God. He has delivered me, and He will deliver you."
And how do we help each other through the difficulties of life? Are we good about promising it? Are we good about actually doing it? We can be the person of Comfort as we pray for each other. Paul was especially grateful to the Church at Corinth as they helped him and his companions through their prayers. "As you help us by your prayers."
Isn't it a good feeling when you know you're being prayed for during your times of difficulty? Doesn't that reminder give you just a little more hope, that people are praying for you? We are blessed here because we know that each of us is willing and ready to pray for one another. That is a great part of what we're here to do. To lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ to the one who can help us with anything.
Maybe some of you came in this morning with some deep hurt in your heart. Maybe you really didn't feel like coming to church and being around people, but you came anyway. Something just told you that you needed to be here. That’s God working in you.
God knows exactly what you're feeling right now, and He wants you to know that you're not alone. He wants you to know that He cares. He wants you to know that He's here and He wants to comfort you through this. He wants to hold you close to Him and tell you it's going to be okay. He wants you to know that whatever your difficulty is, it will heal if you give it time and trust Him. He will be your healer, your comforter, your peace, your hope, your strength, your answer, and your God.
And some of you this morning have been through things in your life. You can look back on those times and praise God because He brought you through them; He blessed you through them, comforted you through them, and you can be that testimony that comforts others through the tests they are facing. Too often we let that opportunity pass by. We, each of us, need to be the one who shares God's love with the ones who need His comfort right now.
Reach out to the God of all comfort. And be that comforter to someone else.