II Corinthians 1:4—“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
The word comfort can be defined as that which has the ability to ease or alleviate a person’s feelings of grief or distress. The Greek word most used in our text for comfort is parakaleo. It is a form of the word we associate with the Holy Spirit’s presence in the earth, who came to indwell every believer as a divine replacement for the presence of Jesus, after His time on earth was accomplished. God desires that we, His children, are comforted in times of tribulation and trials. He allows trials to exist but He also has made provision for the help we need to successfully traverse through the tangle of our dilemma. As believers, we must learn how to receive grace to help whenever we find ourselves in a time of need.
THE NEED FOR COMFORT
The need for comfort in the life of the believer is a constant. As believers, we are in a warfare that never stops. No quarter is asked! No quarter is given! The powers of darkness are constantly attacking through their lies, suggestions, and innuendo. Our flesh has been so weakened by the fall that we are oftentimes a greater hindrance than a help in our walk with God.
The world is constantly pulling at the believer attempting to distract him from the pursuit of his relationship with God and enticing him to join them in an activity that God disapproves of or will have nothing to do with. So the trial of our faith is a consistent and ongoing event.
At times, as is described by the word tribulation, these tests can be “crushing.” We are pushed far beyond our human ability. God teaches us in these difficult times that we don’t have, in and of ourselves, the ability to adequately cope with the issues at hand. Acknowledging this truth is an important lesson for the believer. It must be noted that, were it not for the tribulation that we face, I doubt that many of us would ever pursue the benefit of receiving the comforting grace of God. When we look to Him, when we depend upon Him, when we run to Him, He willingly supplies all that we have need of, in every situation. The question believers should ask themselves is this: am I turning to God daily with the same zealousness when I am not facing a trial or tribulation?
THE SOURCE OF COMFORT
The comfort that is required in difficult times must be supplied to the believer through the person of the Holy Spirit. While the Holy Spirit lives in every born-again believer, there are spiritual laws that determine whether or not He has the liberty and freedom to meet the need of each individual Christian. If the believer is not ordering his walk with God correctly, he can hinder, grieve, and even frustrate the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. Sad to say, but because of a lack of knowledge (not a lack of desire) most Christians wind up pushing the Holy Spirit away just when they need Him most.
The Holy Spirit operates, comforts, and empowers the believer only when his faith is properly placed in God’s redemption plan. This plan was established before the foundation of the earth. It was the design of the Father to send the Son to pay the price on Calvary for man’s sins, so that the third person of the triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit, could aid and comfort the believer.
The presence and work of the Holy Spirit cannot be earned by human endeavor. It can only be experienced as a result of the Christian’s faith in Christ and what Christ did for us on Calvary. Jesus cannot be separated from His redemptive work of the Cross. When our faith is in Christ and Him crucified, the grace of God can flow in a neverending benefit that will comfort us in our time of trial.
So as we continue to believe in a Christ who died to provide everything we need, the Spirit begins to comfort our hearts, bringing peace that passes understanding. Not only that, but He also enters directly into our specific situations and works on our behalf. All of this is the result of a believer trusting in Christ and the covenant that was cut for him at Calvary.
THE SHARING OF COMFORT
Once the believer has learned how to receive grace through the proper object of faith, he will always know how to receive comfort in a negative situation. When a believer finds the beauty, the quietness, and the strength that comes through faith in the Cross, he is now equipped to share that process with other believers.
We can share comfort in any number of ways. One way is to simply show the one who is going through a trial that we care. We don’t have the ability to end other folks’ trials, but we do have the option of coming alongside someone who is in a trial. A smile, a hug, or a simple prayer, can go a long way toward relieving the heartache and stress that someone else is going through. So we should extend ourselves toward those who are truly in need. But the greatest thing that one believer can do for another is to share with someone that feels tormented how to receive for themselves the comfort of God in the time of trial. When we teach others the importance of having properly placed faith, then they can receive grace directly from God Himself.
Nothing that we could ever do will bring more comfort in a consistent measure to those in need. When we share our faith in Christ and Him crucified with others, God Himself comes to their rescue. What a mighty God we serve!