Pass the Comfort On

by Wayne Barber

Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction " (2 Cor. 1:4)

Last month we looked at this verse and saw how affliction is a classroom for us all, where we learn to experience the God of all comfort! We saw that God is always there to comfort us—which makes His comfort so meaningful. But we also saw that when we experience His comfort He enables us to have a ministry to others who are going through similar things! God doesn't waste our experiences but enables us to comfort others in the area where we have been comforted.

But there is something else about going through affliction and being comforted by God. Let's call it the mellowing of our comfort. Being down and looking up to the God of all comfort is a humbling but tenderizing experience in our lives. God is so good to allow us to go through difficult times, where pride has no room in our lives and all we can do is cry out to God!  When we get off our high horse, people become much more dear to us than before.

But notice, it is never we ourselves comforting anyone, but Christ who lives in us! The God of all comfort! I love the little chorus "Jesus be Jesus in me, No longer me but thee; Resurrection power, Fill me this hour, Jesus be Jesus in me." He comforts us as we yield to Him, and as we are comforted by Him He reaches out through us to others who are in distress to comfort them! 

Christ, in us, makes us sensitive to come alongside those who are around us and who are suffering! "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ (2 Cor. 1:5). To the same degree that one suffers and receives the comfort of God he is able to comfort others.

 Now Paul shows the specific suffering that he is talking about: "the sufferings of Christ." Paul's great desire was to know Christ! To experience Christ in his life daily! He shares his desire with us in Philippians 3:10-11: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." In the deadness of his own inability, Paul wanted to experience the resurrected life of God's ability in him. The immediate result of that would be to experience the sufferings of Christ. When you allow Christ to live in and through you, many will respond in a wonderful way. But get used to it—many will cause you great suffering because they want to live their lives their own way!

How much suffering? "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance" (v. 5). "Abundance" indicates the degree to which he is suffering because of his allowing Christ to live through him. But then he adds, "So also our comfort is abundant through Christ." Do you see it? To the degree that we suffer, to the same degree we are comforted!

But, even better than that! It is also the degree to which we can comfort others! Paul brings this home in verses 6 and 7: "But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also sufferknowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort." As Paul and his crew learned to go through affliction, which yielded the comfort of Christ, they could in turn comfort the believers in Corinth and in all Greece! 

Persecution is not fun! But it is indicative of the fact that one is yielded to Christ, allowing Christ to live through him. As you live this week, don't expect the world to jump up and shout because you are surrendered to Christ! But, when they afflict you, cry out to the God of all comfort! He will so tenderize your heart that you will have your eyes open to others who are in the same need—even for those who are causing you all the pain!

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