Friday, January 23, 2015

The God of all comfort for those in need of comforting

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."

The God of all comfort
As I write this post today, I am in the midst of a time of my life where I am grieving over the loss of my dad. Anytime I speak of my dad or any other saint of God who has went on to be with the Lord, I refer to them in present tense, rather than past tense terms. Such a choice reminds me and communicates to others that those who depart this world in death, in Jesus, are still very much alive in their spirit/soul in Heaven. My father is enjoying the glory of the Lord while eagerly awaiting the time of resurrection at the Lord's return, wherein he will be reunited with his physically, glorified, resurrected body. 

Admittedly, the pain of grief is a reality that recedes and proceeds like the tides. There are moments that feel absolutely crushing, and then the "tide" will go back out. It is in those moments that I turn to such passages as 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. 

The words we read here in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 describe the God of scripture and of every person who has by grace through faith placed their trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus as the Divine Son came to earth to become God in human flesh. As the Incarnate Son, He visibly explained and expressed the reality of the invisible, unseen First Person of the Trinity - The Heavenly Father. Who is this Person, the Father? What is He like. For me, as a man who is without his earthly father, such questions have become freshly and highly important in a seasons such as this. 

Whenever we read such scriptures as 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, we discover the power of the Father manifest in situations that are much like my own - situations and times of intense pain, and sorrow.  In this season of my life, I believe there is unlimited power and Grace already made available by the Father to Christians due to the fact He has sent unto them the Holy Spirit in His Son's name. Paul describes this activity of the Father on the believer's behalf as His activity of being  "The God of all comfort". Hence in today's post I want to list out in short order this particular comforting ministry of the Heavenly Father to His people. I pray you the reader will find this helpful, as I know it aids me greatly in a time where the comfort of God is the only comfort that can suffice:

1. God's comfort is a blessed comfort
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ....". When God chooses to bless His people, He is manifesting the overflow of His power and presence in their life. The blessing of God is the favor of God and thus every Christian already has the power of God at their disposal. Thus I can say with this verse that I am blessed by God because of His favor on my life. His favor is made possible by Jesus' once for all death, burial and resurrection. As the believer's advocate, Jesus the Son has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father and because of His constant pleadings, the blessed comfort of the Father is distributed by His Spirit in the Christian's life. Notice the second thing about the Father's comforting ministry....

2. God's comfort is a tender comfort
Again we turn to 2 Corinthians 1:3b "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." The word translated "mercies" is a rarer word in the Greek language of the New Testament. The word speaks of tender, personalized, compassionate mercies, much as a parent consoling a weeping child. Lamentations 3:22-25 states - The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him." Think of how God the Father has new mercies available every day of the Christian's life. He knew the day of my father's death for instance, and He had grace and tender mercies already available to be used by my family and me. God's comfort is a tender, personal comfort. It is crafted and custom fitted to each saint and each situation that the saint finds himself or herself experiencing. Others may ask: "I don't see how so-and-so is able to do what they are doing with all they have going on.". The only answer to be given is: "The comfort of the Father". 

God's grace and comfort exceeds the need of the moment. His comfort is there, we just need to avail ourselves, step into it and walk it out. In some cases, the comforts of the Father spoken of here carry us. So the comfort of God is blessed and tender comfort, now notice thirdly...

3. God's comfort is an empathetic comfort. 
Consider 2 Corinthians 1:4 "who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." Let me be candid - I now know and understand what it is like to lose someone close, someone cherished. To empathize literally means to have the ability to step inside the shoes of that person and identify with their plight. Sympathy, though similar, is one step removed in that we can theoretically, emotionally and by analogy identify with that person. However empathy has that added extra dimension of "I have experienced what that other person has experienced." 

I know that as I walk with the Father through this time in my life, and He with me, there will be the healing that comes to the wound inflicted by death. Only the resurrection power of the Son can remedy the laceration administered by the cold, hard steel of death's sword. As the Spirit of God works internally in my heart, there will come forth, I'm sure, empathy, experience and ability to be used by Him in ministering to others. 

The Father's purposes are not thwarted by death. There are others that need to be embraced by the Father of Heavenly lights with whom there is no variation nor shifting of shadow. (James 1:17) That day or those moments will come and have already begun as even now, God brings other hurting people my way. God's comfort is blessed, personal and empathetic. However without this last trait of the Father's comfort, the first three characteristics would not be possible, namely...

4. God's comfort is experienced through Christ
2 Corinthians 1:5 states "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." When I was a younger man, I would read this verse and quite honestly, it puzzled me. I had understood of course that Jesus had already suffered once-and-for-all for sin, the just for the unjust. (1 Peter 3:18) Yet I wondered to what degree Jesus could still be experiencing suffering in His exalted, ascended state?

Now please track with me for a moment. The achievement of redemption for His people is a one-time event, never to be repeated. However we must not forget that Jesus Christ retained His human nature when He ascended into heaven. By still remaining man, the Son is connected to the humanity of the people of God by the Person of the Spirit of God. Moreover, being that the Person of the Son is ever fully Divine, He is able to experience by the same Person of the Spirit the experiences of His people here on earth as He intercedes with the Person of the Father with whom is  co-equal. When Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection, He did not go with the idea of spending the next 2,000 years being unaffected and untouched by the pains and sorrows of His people. 

The anguish and sorrow experienced by all Christians - whether the death of a loved one, the pain of sickness, the brokenness of relationships or martyrdom, is fully experienced by Jesus, even now, as he ever lives to intercede. Jesus Christ as both fully human and fully Divine, chooses to experience with every generation of His church their sorrows, their tears, their triumphs and their agonies. Hebrews 7:25 states - "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." 

Because of Jesus Christ, the comforts of the Father are administered directly to each Christian in the measure they need. Without the Mediator, Jesus Christ, no man could be saved and no saint could be comforted. 

Closing thoughts
The aim of today's post was to point our attention to the God of all comfort. Even though the primary Person of the Father is in view, we discovered that the Person of the Son and the Person of the Holy Spirit are also included when we speak of the One God of all comfort. We saw four truths about the comfort of the Father to His people:
1. God's comfort is a blessed comfort 

2. God's comfort is a tender comfort

3. God's comfort is an empathetic comfort. 

4. God's comfort is experienced through Christ

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