“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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Not long ago – at the New Year in 2010 – I recall confessing to the Lord that I was way too comfortable. Steve and I were at the place in life where our kids were grown and happy in the Lord. We were financially secure, enjoying traveling together, and enjoying the community of Christ with which we are involved. We had weathered some tough seasons over the years and life was good and without evident trials to mar comfortableness. I felt ready for a challenge – maybe a new way to serve the Lord.
The comfortableness is way gone. I’ve been challenged beyond anything I could have imagined just a year and a half ago. In the midst of the challenge God has shown me comfort and taught me how to be a comforter – even when I’m not comfortable. When Steve preached at Boise Bible College’s Spring Conference recently he spoke on why he loves the church. A lot of his sermon and our experience came from the church’s supportive response to Becky’s death. What I was unprepared for after Steve’s sermon was the number of people who spoke to the two of us about their own experience of grief and suffering. So many people have suffered through a grievous loss. Some experienced the loss many years ago and came to comfort us. Some were deep in the grip of grief over a loss and came to us for comfort. From Boise we went on to Creighton University in Omaha and experienced a memorial for Becky, the Hooding Ceremony for her class and the graduation ceremony. At each situation we were comforted over and over and, once again, found ourselves in the place to comfort others. This experience is a constant in our lives now primarily because sorrow is everywhere and in nearly every person we encounter.
I love the picture of comfort that I see in scripture. The source of all comfort is God the Father. As His comfort flows to us to assuage our sorrows we are equipped to turn around and comfort those who hurt with the same comfort that we have received. We exist in an ongoing stream of comfort whose fountainhead is Father God. The Greek word translated comfort is ‘parakaleo’ and it is an encouragement to me that in John’s gospel we see Holy Spirit called ‘parakletos’ – Comforter – a name intimately related to that word. Holy Spirit is the ‘one called alongside’ to comfort us and teach us and counsel us and he often does this work through us! Today I am thankful for the many comforters in my life and I’m thankful to be called into the role of comforter.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-19