The God of All Comfort

The God of All Comfort

The God of All Comfort is a sermon teaching us that we suffer so that we may be comforted by the God of all comfort. We are comforted by Him so that we may learn how to comfort others.

Key verses:
II Corinthian 1:1-6

It is wonderful to hear folks testify how the Lord has worked and is working in your life and that is kind of what we want to talk about this evening. We are going to be in II Corinthians chapter one and looking at just the first six verses. To start off, I want us to look at just verse three, and I think there is something here that the Lord has for us.

We All Have Difficulties

While you are finding II Corinthians, I just want to share something with you. If you were going to ask different pastors, and I am going to limit it to just pastors right now because not all preachers are pastors. All pastors need to be preachers but not all preachers need to be pastors, and that is OK, that is God’s will. But how does a pastor know what to share with a congregation? I will share a couple of things with you.

Number one, you listen to people and what they are saying and try to discern what the needs of people are. Not just one person. If one person has a need, that is a counseling session. If ten, fifteen, or twenty people have the same need, that is a sermon. Does that make sense?

And then you look at circumstances, what people are going through, what is happening. But mainly, you pray about it. You pray and seek the Lord and say, “Lord, what would you want me to say to the church?” And you let the Lord lead you. Now, all of that is dependent upon being in the scripture and being in the Word, knowing what the Lord is saying so that you know where to go.

I heard one fellow pastor say, “The Bible is kind of like an apothecary.” Here is what he meant by that. Somebody comes and they have a need, and you look in the Bible to find what they need. He was right about that. That particular pastor was right about a lot of things, and I learned a great deal from him.

I want to take you tonight to II Corinthians chapter one verse three and then we will be looking at verses one through six.

II Corinthians 1:3: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”

That is what we want to focus on this evening, that last little phrase, “the God of all comfort.” Somebody might be wondering why the message is on comfort and if something terrible happened. The truth is terrible things happen all the time. They do and you and I ought to be thankful that they do not happen to us all the time. But there are times in the life of every person when we go through difficulty. There is no doubt about that. Jesus said, “In the world, ye should have tribulation.” You are going to have trouble, you will. But then He said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Not every person has the same difficulty. Some people have difficulty in a short time, other people have difficulty their entire life, but every person has difficulty. By the way, we all ought to be thankful that we do not have the same difficulty.

Everyone Needs Comfort

That same pastor I heard a while ago, wrote on one occasion about how he had a great burden on his heart. He was in his study and one person came in to see him and then another and another. He listened to each one of them and prayed with them and shared scripture with them. He said by the time evening was over and he had gone into God’s Word and prayed over so many people who were having so many difficulties, he could not remember what his was. You know what? That is how the Lord works. So, there are times in our lives when each one of us, every one of us, needs to be comforted.

I was watching an old TV show, I do not watch new TV shows to tell you the truth. This particular one was made about sixty years ago, so that gives you an idea. In the story, there were children who had been orphaned. They were not brothers and sisters, just seven, eight, or nine children who through different circumstances had been orphaned.

Where they were, there was no orphanage for them to go to. People were getting together to try and take care of these children. Even though these people had no connection to them, they were not relatives and did not even know them for the most part. There was a scene where the children needed to be comforted. Some of them were tired and some were not feeling well, a couple of them were sick.

I noticed that one of the lead actors on the show took one of the smallest girls and showed her the most tender loving care. I watched that and this fellow is a professional actor. If I said his name some of you would recognize it. Some of you might not have heard of him because this was sixty years ago. But it did not look to me like the fellow was acting. It looked to me like he had a genuine bond with this little girl and to be honest with you, the way she responded to him, it did not look like she was acting. She looked kind of little to be acting anyway.

I got curious and looked it up. I suspected something. I found out I was right. In real life, not acting, that was father and daughter. That is why you saw that bond. That is why you saw them respond to each other. That was the actor’s daughter, and he was her daddy and that is why they blended together so well.

I tell you that about the old TV show because though this man was acting, he was not a stranger to the little girl. There was her loving father comforting this little child. That man was an actor, and he has long since passed away, but he was a good actor. But this was not acting, this was real.

How to Study the Bible

The reason I am telling you about that story is that this is how your heavenly Father is. He is not acting. It is not just something you read about on the pages of scripture. It is reality. I want to talk to you about the love of a father for his child and I want to talk to you about the God of all comfort.

When you study the Bible, when you look at any Bible passage, you ought to ask yourself some questions if you want to understand it. First of all, who is writing here and who is talking? Sometimes the writer is speaking directly to you. Sometimes the writer is telling you what somebody else said, but who is talking?

The second question is, to whom are they talking? Are they talking to a general audience, that would be you, or some individual, or some group that was present at the time? So, who is talking and to whom are they talking to?

Then finally, what are they talking about, what is the subject? If you ask yourself those questions, just looking at a new Bible passage, it will help to open up to you. You understand who is doing the talking and to whom they are speaking and what are they trying to say.

By the way, the Bible always has something to say. None of it is written as “That is OK, that is nice statistical information.” You might say, “Oh preacher, I got you there, what about those long genealogies?” If you look and you study those genealogies, they have a lot to say too. They tell you a great deal of why things are the way they are, why they are the way they are, and who is related to who, and how it got that way, and how God worked in the lives of people.

Particularly in the genealogy of Jesus but there are other genealogies given that help us find out things. If you go back to Genesis, it tells us about the different people who were born, who have children, and where they went, it tells you how the world got populated, it tells you all about it. There is a great deal there and it always has something to say.

Being an Apostle

In this case, who is talking? It is the apostle, Paul:

II Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:”

He writes in the first phrase of this verse, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Not everybody can claim to have that title, an apostle of Christ. There are folks who claim it today and they are OK to do that in one sense. The word “apostle” means sent one, one who is sent out. It is very similar to the term we use, missionary. So, if you want to take it in that term and say, “God sent me out on a mission,” then you can claim to be an apostle.

But when we talk about THE apostles of Jesus Christ, that was a specific group of men who lived in the New Testament period and when the last one passed off the scene, that would be John, there were no more apostles. Some groups claim apostolic succession where those apostles passed on their apostleship to others, but you never find that in the Bible, it never says that. In the New Testament, when the apostles passed off the scene, you do not see that a new apostle rose up and took their place with the exception of Judas, you find that in Acts chapter one.

But Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ. How did Paul become an apostle of Jesus Christ? You had to be personally taught by the Lord Jesus himself, and you had to be an eyewitness of the resurrection to have that title. If you ask where I got those ideas, I got them in Acts chapter one. It tells us very clearly that you had to be trained by the Lord Jesus. Each one was trained by Him for approximately three years, closer to three and a half. And they were all witnesses of the resurrection. There is nobody today who can make those claims. You can say, “The Lord taught me for three years or so and I was an eyewitness to the resurrection,” but there is nobody around today who can say that. But Paul could.

How did Paul get to be an apostle? He tells us, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” It was God’s will that he should be an apostle. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. Who is he speaking to? The church at Corinth. There is a great deal in here for us and that is why this letter is included in the Bible. But it was originally written to the people at Corinth. He had already written to them one epistle or letter and that is I Corinthians. Now, he writes a second letter to the Corinthians. I think last Sunday I said that if he were around today, he would write a third letter to the Corinthians, but that is not going to happen, they do not add to scriptures.

But who else is talking, or who else is present with him? It tells us, II Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” This is the Timothy you read about, the one Paul writes about in his two last letters, I and II Timothy. II Timothy was the last one he wrote, his last message that he wrote while in prison. There are certain epistles called the prison epistles because they were written in prison, and again, II Timothy was the last one of those.

Who Paul Wrote To

But “Timothy our brother,” is with Paul when he writes. And to whom is he writing? We already said he was writing to the church at Corinth and look at it, “unto the church of God which is at Corinth.” So, that is not just my opinion to whom he was writing, and “with all the saints which are in all Achaia.”

Achaia is a region, a Greek province on the peninsula west of Athens. That this point in history when Paul was writing this letter, the Romans controlled that area. The Romans controlled that area as they did much of the world. They never controlled the entire world, but they controlled a large segment of it and they made Corinth the capital of Achaia. We could think of it this way, in Florida, Tallahassee would be the capital. So, it would be a letter written to the church of Tallahassee, the church of God, the saints of Tallahassee, and to all those in Florida, if that helps you out. You get the idea of what Paul is saying here.

So, this letter is for the church at Corinth and to everyone in the surrounding area. It was not limited to that church and it is, again, for us today. In verse two he gives a greeting:

II Corinthians 1:2: “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Grace” is the love and kindness from God our Savior toward man, “be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ,” Jesus said:

John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

The peace of God we read in another place, “passes all understanding.” So, grace and peace is for you. In verse three:

II Corinthians 1:3: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”

We opened with verse three, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ but if you are a believer in Christ, you are one of the brethren, you are a child of God, so He is your Father. It is going to help you tremendously in your life if you realize that God is your heavenly Father. What did Jesus teach the disciples to pray when He gave that pattern of prayer? He said, “Our Father which art in Heaven.” You have a father on earth, but you are talking to your Father in Heaven. And so, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God the Comforter

And what else is He? “The Father of mercies.” That means He is compassionate to us, and the word “compassion” means to suffer with you. The word “passion” is suffering, “com” is the prefix, suffering with you. What that means is, when we suffer, He feels it. When we feel hurt, He feels hurt. When we mourn, He feels our grief. When we are stressed, He feels our stress. He is compassionate toward us. That is why we sang that hymn a while ago, “Jesus cares, oh yes, He cares. I know He cares.” The fact of the matter is the Lord is there and feels what you feel.

And then the last phrase of verse three and the one we are emphasizing tonight, “and the God of all comfort.” Before Jesus went to the cross, He tried to prepare the apostles. I say He tried, He gave them everything they needed, they just did not understand all of it. They did not quite get it all. One of the things He told them was that He was going away, He told them that several times. He told them that he was going to be arrested and crucified, and He told them that He would rise again. They did not quite grasp all of that, but He told them. And He told them that when He went away, He was going to send another Comforter.

The word “another” is an interesting word there because you can say that there comes a car and that was a Ford and there comes another car and that was a Hyundai and they are not the same, are they? They are both automobiles, so you say “another,” but it is not the same. Does that make sense to you?

But the word “another” when Jesus says He is going to send another Comforter, He means another of the same kind and this one is going to be like Him, He says. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to us. We heard a testimony thanking God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit just a few moments ago. He promised to send the Holy Spirit and He calls the Holy Spirit in that passage, the Spirit of Truth, and we desperately need truth today. The Holy Spirit helps you discern truth as you are reading the Bible, you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you read with your understanding, and He will do it because He is to guide us into all truth.

Then He promised to send us the Comforter because we desperately need comfort. It is not just a comforter it is THE Comforter. The word there is paraclete, one called alongside. It is like someone comes up beside you when you are hurting and puts an arm around your shoulders and sometimes does not even say anything but is just there for you to comfort you. He comes alongside and He comforts us like a father comforts his children.

Every parent, father, or mother, when you see your child hurt you want to comfort them, you want to take care of them, you want to make it better. You want to do everything you can for them. And so, our heavenly Father feels towards us the same way.

And then in verse four, the verse starts off with the pronoun “Who.” That pronoun has an antecedent, pronouns always do, so let’s go back and read verse three and that will flow into verse four:

II Corinthians 1:3: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”

Comfort in All Tribulations

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.”

He comforts us in all our tribulation, all of it. We said before and we said many times here, you have issues, I have issues, but we do not all have the same problems. We have heard testimony tonight about being healed and delivered from cancer. That is wonderful and thank God.

There are others dealing with that same disease right now and there are others dealing with other diseases right now and other problems. Not all problems are physical, many of them are, but there are other kinds of problems we have too. We heard about financial supply. Financial stress can be tremendous. If you somebody money, maybe you owe several people money, and you do not have it. It puts a lot of stress on you, it becomes a great burden. It is not that you do not want to pay it, you cannot, but the pressure is there on you. You need that comfort.

It may be family strife that you are dealing with. You know families ought to be loving and kind to each other, families ought to be helpful to each other. They ought to be comforting each other, supporting each other and sometimes they are but sometimes they are not. Sometimes they cause problems. There are all kinds of situations that we have but He comforts us in all our tribulation.

A lot of Christians today, a lot of Christians in our world, and more and more in our country, thank God for the freedom we still have. Do not ever lose sight of that, thank God for it. There are those who would do away with that if they could and they are making efforts in that direction.

There are people tonight who know the Lord just like you do, who love the Lord as you do, who want to worship the Lord as you do and they do so under great danger from their own government, from people who live around them, from those who wish them harm, from those who would eliminate them if they could. Some of them pay by going into jail or prison, some of them pay through physical harm and even death. But He comforts us in all tribulation.

Then there is probably one of the most difficult things for most of us to deal with is when we lose a loved one. There is someone that we care about deeply and they are not there any longer, and that realization hits us that they are not going to be there. We have seen them for the last time in this life. We have spoken to them and heard their voice for the last time in this life. But He comforts us in all our tribulation.

We Must Comfort Others

And then notice again in verse four, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.” One of the reasons the Lord comforts us is so we can be a comfort to other people. We can comfort them, in what kind of trouble? In any trouble, no matter what problem they are having. More than once, I have heard people say, “I needed so much, and I was hurting badly, and so-and-so came, and they did not do a great deal, they were just there.” Sometimes, folks, that is what people really need, somebody just to be there. So, how do we do that? Look again at verse four:

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 way God comforts us, that is how we are going to comfort them. Do you ever read something in scripture that is comforting to you? I tell you what, Psalms thirty-four is very comforting to me and I have shared it with many other people. There is a great deal of comfort in Psalms thirty-four, there are other portions of scriptures that are comforting. Prayer can be a great comfort.

Sometimes sharing with somebody and saying you know how they feel but be careful about that. I will be very frank with you; I have talked to people, and they tell me what is going on in their life and I cannot say that I know how they feel because I never experienced what they are experiencing. So, I cannot say that I know what that feels like because I do not. Do not say it if it is not true.

If it is true, sometimes it helps to say, “I know how you feel because I have been through something similar. Here is what helped me and let me help you.” It is a great tool to have. But again, do not be false about it. Someone tells you something about it and you never experienced anything like it, you do not know what it is, do not say that you know how they feel when you do not know.

Sufferings and Consolation

Then there is something else here in verse five:

II Corinthians 1:5: “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”

The first part of the verse is an interesting statement, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us.” We talked about the Gospel this morning in I Corinthians chapter fifteen verses three and four, how that Christ died for our sins in scriptures, but if you go back and read the crucifixion story, it will outline to you that there were sufferings of Christ before he actually got to the cross.

And then the sufferings of the cross itself were horrendous. And yet, this same writer, Paul, writes to the Galatians and says, “I am crucified with Christ.” Was Paul there when Jesus was crucified? Was he one of those thieves that were crucified with him? Certainly not. As near as I can tell and I do not know this beyond a shadow of a doubt, he was not even in Jerusalem on that day. It does not look like he was. It looks like he came in later. But the fact of the matter is, “the sufferings of Christ abound in us.” Look at that, we understand that, and we read it, “the sufferings of Christ abound in us.”

Let me just interject something here before we go to the next thought. Do you ever find yourself low on compassion? You are not feeling as compassionate as you should? I will tell you two things that helped me when I got low on compassion. The second one I am not really able to do these days, but I will tell you about it anyway.

The first one is this. Sometimes I go back when I am low on compassion, I read in all four gospels, the different accounts of the crucifixion. I read them and that helps me get compassionate again. The other thing that I used to do, and I cannot anymore, you can figure out why, but I used to go to the children’s hospital and just walk around and visit children in the hospital. You know what, you will get compassionate, you will.

You cannot just walk into a children’s hospital these days, you understand that, but you used to be able to do that. What did I do, just stand around and stare? No, you talk to the children, you pray with them, you encourage them, you help them. Again, you cannot just walk in and think that you will do that today, but there was a time when you could, and I did. That will refill your compassion tank really quickly. So again, in verse five:

II Corinthians 1:5: “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”

Part of what Paul is saying when he says, “the sufferings of Christ”, he suffers for the testimony of the Lord Jesus. He outlines that in other passages of scripture. But he suffered greatly, great physical hardships, betrayal, all the things you suffer, loss. And so, “the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” The more our sufferings are, the more we lean upon the Lord. Then have we His comfort, we have the comfort of the God of all comfort, and we can share that with others. Now finally verse six:

II Corinthians 1:6: “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

The starts out with “And whether we be afflicted” and Paul had been afflicted. When we hurt, when we have trouble, when we suffer loss, when we suffer betrayal, all of these things, “it is for your consolation and salvation.” What does it mean “for your consolation”? Paul said, “I suffered many things so that I can tell you about this.”

There is that famous passage where he talks about having a thorn in the flesh. He prayed three times to the Lord to take it away and you know what? It was not taken away. But he was told, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” That is something we can apply to ourselves and something we can help other people with because sometimes the thorn does not go away. Sometimes, there is a purpose for it. But His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect through our weakness.

Now, “whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation.” When we hurt, when we have trouble, it is for consolation so that we can learn to console others. And then he says, “and salvation.” You do not get saved by being afflicted. That is not what he is saying, he is saying, because of your salvation, because you are a child of God, you go through these things, and you will. I mentioned earlier people being persecuted for their faith in Christ. But there are things that will happen to you because you are a child of Christ. There are many blessings, and the blessings certainly outweigh anything negative, but negative things can happen to you because you are a child of God. So, Paul says:

II Corinthians 1:6: “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

We endure suffering and sometimes you do, you just have to endure it, there is no easy way out. There is no quick fix. You cannot put a band-aid on it. You endure suffering. But when we are suffering, we are comforted by the God of all comfort and we turn to Him.

Some of the greatest hymns that we sing were written by people who went through tremendous suffering. You know the story of the writer of “It Is Well with My Soul” and many of the hymns we sing were written by Frances Ridley Havergal who went through tremendous suffering in her life. We talk often about Fanny Crosby who was blind when she wrote all of her hymns. But there are others who wrote from a broken heart, who wrote from great pain and difficulty. Some of the hymns we sing were written by people who could not get out of bed. Some of them were written by people who had lost their dearest love. Many of them were written during times of great suffering.

So, we suffer but our Lord has suffered for us. We suffer so that we may be comforted by the God of all comfort, and we suffer so that we may know how he has comforted us, and we may comfort others. We suffer so we could tell other people about the God of all comfort. We must tell this old, sin-sick world about the Savior. We must tell this old suffering world about the God of all comfort.

No suffering is pleasant. Nobody likes to suffer. I do not think anybody in this room or anybody listening woke up and said, “I hope I can suffer today.” Probably not. You may do like I do sometimes, you wake up in the morning and you take inventory of what hurts today, and sometimes say, “It does not hurt today.” But no suffering is pleasant, no suffering is wanted. But suffering has a purpose, it is not for nothing. Again, we suffer so that we may be comforted by the God of all comfort. We are comforted by Him so that we may learn how to comfort others.

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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