2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Paul began describing his hardships on a positive, exuberant note. This “Blessed be the God…” is derived from the Old Testament (Ps. 41:13), but Paul modified it to express distinctively Christian praise. Not only is God praised, but he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This modification demonstrates that Paul saw Christianity as one with Old Testament religion, but not precisely the same. Christ had become the center of true belief. New Testament believers relate to God as the one who sent Christ. Paul added that the Father has compassion and all comfort. This praise also derives from the Old Testament (Isa. 51:12; 66:13). Compassion denotes God’s mercy and his concern for the plight of those who suffer. Comfort is what God gives to those who suffer. These terms were appropriate because Paul was about to describe his own troubles in suffering for the gospel. Paul suffered and was comforted partly so he could bring comfort to others in any trouble. His suffering in ministry was an act of service to the Corinthians. Having suffered and been comforted, Paul could comfort others with the comfort he had received from God. Paul’s use of the first person suggests that he thought primarily about himself and his company in this passage, but the principle applies to all believers. God permits his servants to suffer, and then comforts them so they may in turn comfort others.
Paul found genuine comfort in God. You will, too. As you go through difficult times, real storms, immense challenges, you will find, even as Paul found, that God is a God of comfort. You will discover that He is the Father of mercy, who will comfort you in order that you can comfort others. This is such a key passage because it clearly explains that the degree you can encourage others is the degree you have been encouraged yourself. Your challenge this week is to tap into the resources of God’s comfort to you and be reminded of how God has taken you through difficult times then in turn be a support to someone else in their time of need. It is only when you have experienced God’s faithfulness firsthand that you can assure others that God will be faithful to them.