Comforted so we can comfort others

2 Corinthians 1--3-4

Verse of the Day for March 8, 2017 offers words to strengthen and encourage believers:

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV):

[Comfort in Suffering] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The passage opens by giving praise to “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” who is described as the source of all mercies. Furthermore, He is the source of “all comfort” who imparts “the only true and perfect comfort in every instance,” according to Logos Bible software. The passage refers to comfort, used as both a noun, that which God provides and as a verb, whereby we, as believers, ease the grief or trouble of someone; we console those who are hurting.

Because we have been comforted and encouraged when we go through “any kind of trouble” or “all our tribulation,” we are able to comfort and encourage others who are going through similarly stressful situations.

2 Corinthians 1:6-7 (NKJV) reiterates this point:

Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

As we reflect upon the goodness of God and acknowledge that He has been and continues to be “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,” we note His magnanimous display of great comfort throughout the Old Testament, as the Psalmist assures us of God’s faithfulness:

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.

Psalm 71:21 goes on to say:

You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.

Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, makes reference to the Word of God in some form or another in every verse, also reveals the source of our comfort:

Psalm 119:50:

This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me and given me life.

Psalm 119:52:

I have remembered [carefully] Your ancient ordinances, O Lord, And I have taken comfort.

Psalm 119:76

O may Your lovingkindness and graciousness comfort me, According to Your word (promise) to Your servant.

Psalm 119:82

My eyes fail [with longing, watching] for [the fulfillment of] Your promise, Saying, “When will You comfort me?”

In the same way that God comforted Israel with words of consolation, so are we strengthened with these words from Isaiah 40 in the Message Bible:

Isaiah 40:1-2:

“Comfort, oh comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear That she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of—forgiven! She’s been punished enough and more than enough, and now it’s over and done with.”

We recognize God’s display of comfort in the Old Testament as an illustration of Romans 15:4:

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

The God of all comfort, the Father of mercies provides comfort in very specific ways. Jesus Christ also assures us “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Because we, as believers, have been comforted, we are able to provide comfort and encouragement or to comfort one another. As 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us

Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day and related passages, we noted how believers go through trying circumstances, described as troubles or tribulation and receive comfort and encouragement, so that in turn we can comfort and encourage others who are facing similar circumstances that we have endured. In actuality, in the same way, the sufferings of Jesus Christ and all that he endured ultimately were designed to benefit others.  A song comes to mind that captures the essence of that message: “Medicine (For Someone Else).” So we close with another dose of “good medicine” from the shelves of Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe:

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