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 have received from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The words, trouble and comfort, stand out repeatedly in this passage, and the two always go together. Trouble is what we today would probably call pressure or stress. It is what many of you, perhaps, are feeling right now when you think about going to work. It is whatever ties knots in your stomach and makes you feel anxious or frightened about what lies ahead. It is what makes for hectic days and sleepless nights. It gnaws continually at your mind and threatens your well-being; it refuses to go away and leave you alone; it depresses you and darkens the future with forebodings of disaster.
Comfort is more than just a little cheer or friendly word of encouragement. The word basically means
to strengthen. What Paul experienced was the strengthening of God to give him a peaceful, restful spirit to meet the pressure and stress with which he lived. It is amazing to me how many Christians dread facing their daily lives because they feel pressured and stressful and tied up in knots, and yet they never avail themselves of God's provision for that kind of pressure. These words are not addressed to us merely to be used for religious problems. They are to be used for any kind of stress, any kind of problems. God's comfort, God's strengthening, is available for whatever creates stress in your life.
I say that many do not avail themselves of it. The reason I say that is because they give every evidence that they behave just like anybody else who is not a Christian—they try to escape their pressures. Or, if they are Christian, they are praying that they will be rescued from their pressures, that the problems will be taken away. You can always tell how ill-taught Christians really are when you hear their prayers. Invariably they pray to have their problems taken away or to be completely shielded from them. All their hopes are for escape somehow, and all their reactions are either worry; a murmuring, complaining spirit; anger; or fear. This is not Christianity in action.
Listen to Paul:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He praises God for the circumstances of his life even though there are afflictions. He calls God the
Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. He sees God's hand as having sent these things into his life; therefore, he doesn't pray to have them removed so that he might escape from them. He sees them as opportunities for the release of the strength of God.
Father, I confess to You that I am often truculent about my difficulties. I resent them. I do not want to accept them. I want them removed or I become rebellious, and I complain. Help me to trust and be at peace.
In times of grief and troubles, do we find significance and comfort in knowing we are being equipped to serve others for Jesus' sake?