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 –2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Some years ago, I received an email that my uncle was taken to the hospital while vacationing in Rome. As soon as I heard, I knew I needed to head for Rome, since at that time I was living in the United Kingdom and was closer to him than any other relative. Within 24 hours of receiving the news, I arrived in Rome to be a support for my aunt and uncle. I had no idea what I would do or say. I simply knew I needed to be there and at least I could pray.
God used my prayers to teach me a lesson about words. Words are powerful. The book of Proverbs warns us to use our tongues wisely. During the week I spent in the Italian hospital, words were sometimes a comfort. However, I quickly realized they were best when rarely spoken. While words are important, they don’t substitute for a hug. No word can share a tear. No word can hold a loved one’s hand. It’s hard to find the right words in the midst of another’s sorrow and pain. In moments like these, presence is often more important than words.
The lesson that the Lord taught me is that He is the ultimate Comforter. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to give us peace. When we are lost, confused, hurt, sad, scared, tired or misunderstood, He brings comfort. The ultimate Comforter will not offer meaningless words or clichéd responses. His presence in our lives holds us through life’s ups and downs.
Further, I realize my own ability to comfort rests solely on God. As Paul tells the Corinthians, we can comfort others because God first comforted us. We see God’s comfort at work as He provides us with others to walk beside us and to act as His hands and feet. The support I was able to provide originated from God, who gave me not only the opportunity to be present, but the strength to share His comfort.
Are you hurting, lost and in need of comfort? Cry out to the Lord! He is already with you. Is someone you know hurting? God calls you to be a comforter, even as He is a comforter to you.
1. Reread the passage above. Why do you think Paul mentioned sharing in suffering as he speaks of being comforted?
2. Think of ways you can be the hands and feet of Christ to those around you who suffer.
Isaiah 54:10; Matthew 5:3-5; Philippians 2:1-3