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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
Comfort is defined as the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. To comfort is to lessen the sadness or sorrow of someone and to strengthen by inspiring with hope and restoring a cheerful outlook. Comfort comes from a heart of compassion, concern, and kindness. It is not an emotional response, though it can be emotional.
To comfort is not to pity. Rather, it is to minister to others in their time of need. The ministry of comfort is paramount for sustaining the joy of salvation. The Word of God calls us to comfort those who are in any affliction. Affliction can be an illness, the loss of a loved one, a mental or physical condition, hardship, or misfortune.
During this pandemic, the ministry of comfort is all the more essential for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the Body of Christ. Just because a believer is hopeful about eternal life does not mean they do not experience sorrow. When our loved ones transition to heaven, we still mourn. Indeed, the pain of losing a loved one does not go away because we have faith in Christ. I am still mourning my brother who died in 1991, and my mother who died in 2014. There is still an emptiness in my heart because of their loss. However, because of the comforting grace of God, I have been able to press forward with hope.
In today’s text, Paul praises God for His comforting grace and exhorts the Corinthians to comfort those who are in affliction. We do not have to look hard to find people in need of comfort. People in our homes and churches need to be strengthened by inspiring with hope. As the number of people who are struggling with depression continues to increase because of COVID-19 we have many opportunities to comfort.
One of the most effective ways to comfort others is by praying for them and with them. Indeed, there is something therapeutic and comforting about interceding for others in prayer in their hour of need. Having someone call me to pray for me is so inspiring, and uplifting that it renews my mental and spiritual energy. Prayer is my primary mode of comfort to those in the body of Christ.
We also need to provide comfort in more tangible ways. When a brother or sister loses their job, we have to do more than just pray for them. Jesus met people at their point of need. Though He taught the masses the fundamental principles of faith, He also ministered to their needs. There were times when He healed the sick. At other times, He fed the multitude with physical food. He also raised the dead and cast out demonic spirits.
The poor and hungry need more than prayer to be comforted. We cannot comfort the homeless with just prayer. These afflicted brothers and sisters need concrete actions. God comforted us by giving His only Begotten Son as the propitiation for our sins. Jesus comforted us by sacrificing His life. To comfort others in their affliction is to invest in their wellbeing. Indeed, to comfort others may be free, but it may not be cheap.
God rewards those who comfort others in a variety of ways in their affliction. Many of us are thriving emotionally, physically, and financially during this pandemic because we seek to comfort others in their affliction. Comforting others is tantamount to storing treasures in heaven. God is faithful to prosper those who invest in the ministry of comfort.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How is God calling you to comfort people around you who are afflicted?
How can the Body of Christ comfort you during this season?
Prayer- Merciful God, please reveal to me how I can comfort others in their affliction more effectively. Soften my heart so I can be more aware of the misfortune of others and minister to them with the love of Christ.