God's Comfort Principle
‘He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.’ (2 Corinthians 1:4, The Message)
The last thing that any of us wants to be in times of trouble is ‘glib comforters’; you know, people who come with their trite truths, dispensed without real thought or feeling, trying to ‘cheer us up’ or telling us that it will ‘be all right’. Job had friends like that - and he described them as ‘miserable comforters’ whose ‘long-winded speeches never end’! (Job 16:2-3).
But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a very real way in which we can share with others in their hard times out of what we ourselves have been through. Once we have ‘come out the other side’, we often find that we can help those who are going through the same things. We can share our first-hand experience of God’s comfort and help with real understanding; and as long as we do so with sensitivity and a caring heart, it will be appreciated and do its work.
Paul experienced many times what it was both to comfort and be comforted, grasping the clear link between the two and seeing it as a principle of how God works among us. There was one particular time when he felt greatly in need of comfort. Besides the usual pressures of his work, he had become anxious about a number of things, especially about what was happening in the church at Corinth. He desperately wanted some news; and it was right at that point that God’s ‘comfort principle’ sprang into action, as ‘God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him’ (2 Corinthians 7:6-7). Comfort all round!
No matter what our situation, God has comfort appropriate to it. He wants us to get hold of that – and then to pass it on. Today, resolve to both be comforted and to be a comfort, thereby releasing more of God’s promised comfort among his people.
‘And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him to find strength in God.’ (1 Samuel 23:16)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont