The Ministry of Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Comfort is a great biblical word. Presumably the word appears often in Scripture because our frailty requires that we be reassured and strengthened so frequently. It is significant that the Greek word which is translated “comfort” in the New Testament shares the same root as the name for the Holy Spirit, who is so often known as “the Comforter” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is much more than a Comforter, but He is that, and He fulfills the role wonderfully well.

The Greek word means “calling to one’s side,” and it is the Holy Spirit in all His power, and with all His resources who draws alongside us. He comes to strengthen us, help us to handle our problems and stresses.

James Moffatt’s translation of verse is helpful because he moved from the statement that the Father is the “God of all comfort” to the personal affirmation, “who comforts me in all my distress.” Sooner or later the pressures of life require that we stand firm when others crumble or would, at least, be perplexed or resentful. The reason for our strength and stability is the fact that the comfort which God alone can give is available to us, and we have learned how to draw on Him as our prime resource. He “comforts me in all my distress.”

Who can better comfort another than the person who has been comforted? Those people who have walked the dark, lonely road of grief and learned that through the Holy Spirit Christ has been a comforting companion on the way are well qualified to give support. Credibility is a vital element in helping others. We listen to those who have experienced suffering and sorrow—the people who “do understand” because they are familiar with the doubts, darkness, pain and, wonderfully, the comfort of God.

Paul was writing out of deep personal experience as he shared with the Corinthians. He had the mindset which enabled him to turn difficulties into opportunities and blessings, and he knew that he was qualified to comfort other people because he himself had been comforted. He recognized this as an important ministry both for himself and others to exercise.

When we belong to Christ, we belong to God and we belong to each other. This special relationship means that comfort and encouragement are lovely ministries that we can, and should, fulfill.

Harry Read, Words of Life


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