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THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT
by Philip Owen

          Have you ever given any thought to this phrase: the “God of all comfort”? Immediately following his introductory remarks in his second epistle to the church in Corinth, Paul writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (1:3). Then nine additional times in the next four verses some form of the word comfort appears. Evidently, it is a thought that not only has captured Paul’s imagination but also one he wants us to consider. May the three following thoughts provoked particularly by the “all” part of the phrase motivate you to further meditations on this description of our God that you might be encouraged in Him.

           1. All comfort comes from God. We will find no lasting comfort in anyone or anything other than God. There is no comfort in the bottom of a bottle, the tip of a needle, or the cloud of a white powder. Success and financial security offer no lasting comfort. Religion and philosophy offer only empty comfort.  As does good health. Not even friendship and close family ties provide ultimate comfort. The best the world can do is little more than to place a band-aid on the area where a limb has been severed. God is the only source of genuine comfort.

           2. All kinds of comfort come only from God. Whether the pain is of the body, soul, or spirit, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual, God is the solution. James assures us that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (1:17). We may truly say all good natural gifts derive from God. Fallen humanity is incapable of producing anything good or of value apart from the goodness and mercy of God. Yes, there are secondary sources of comfort for various physical ailments—medications, treatments, medical devices, etc. Yes, there are secondary sources for financial difficulties—bank loans, gifts from friends—but God is the ultimate provider of every good gift.

           3. All comfort for every situation comes from God.  Just as God alone can provide every kind of comfort needed, so God alone has an answer for every situation we face—no matter how dire. No situation exists beyond the grasp of the God of all comfort. Illness, pain, physical death? God alone is sufficient to comfort in those circumstances. Sorrow for sin, grief over an unsaved loved one? Only God has the antidote for such deep-rooted sorrow. Even a flurry of knockout blows that might otherwise put a believer out of commission through confusion, anger, bitterness, hurt, and depression can be parried by the all-availing comfort of God.

           All comfort is not the only “all” phrase Paul mentions. Paul assures us in verse four that God “comforts us in all our afflictions.” Whatever their source—Satan, others’ sin, our own sin—whatever their nature—spiritual, mental, emotional, physical—God offers a universal antidote, an unending supply of grace that does not fail.

           Note two other points made by Paul. First, we are the recipients, not only of all comfort, but also of “abundant” comfort (v. 5). We don’t get a pain pill once a day and then just hope that the analgesic lasts for twenty-four hours. We don’t run out of comfort because we can’t afford to pay for the medicine. No, God offers His comfort freely and abundantly—without any fear of addiction because it is always and altogether salubrious. Second, Paul assures us that the comfort God provides “is abundant through Christ” (v. 5). God can provide us every kind of comfort in every kind of circumstance; He can do so abundantly and without cost to us through Christ, because Christ paid the price to redeem us from our sin, because Christ suffered and died so that we might be delivered from sin, receive eternal life, become the favored sons of God, and receive all the blessings of joint heirship with Christ.

 

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