What do you look for when you go shopping for living room furniture? For me, my primary concern is comfort. When I sit down in my living room to watch a movie with my wife and kids, I want to be comfortable. When I plop down on my recliner on a Sunday afternoon after a big lunch, I want to be sitting on something in which I can take a good nap. At that moment, I don’t give much thought at all to styles or color schemes! That’s not too say that other qualities in furniture don’t matter to me. It’s nice to have furniture that is pleasant to look at, especially when we have company. It would be nice to have furniture that is easy to clean, especially in a season when we have young children. That being said, I remember a group of young ladies I knew in college that would refer to their choices in footwear with the motto, “Fashion Before Comfort.” Personally, with furniture, and with shoes, I would respectfully choose comfort first.
It’s A Hard World Out There
Part of the reason we value comfort is because it’s a hard world out there and it takes its toll on us, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. We live in a world characterized by sickness, disaster, and death. Our world is torn apart by war, hatred, evil, and injustice. We shed tears over broken relationships, broken hearts, and broken dreams. If you live long enough in this world, then you know that the words of one preacher ring true, “Every household, every heart, in its turn, is pierced.”
As we turn to the pages of Scripture, we find that this hard truth is not dismissed or sugarcoated. More than that, we find the even harder truth that humanity has, in fact, brought this suffering upon ourselves on account of our sinful rebellion against God. We are told that, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).
Later, with respect to the judgment that came against Creation at the Fall in Genesis 3, we read, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21).
Finally, with respect to our very nature as human beings, we read, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
It’s a hard world out there, characterized by futility and corruption, ungodliness and unrighteousness, sinful passions and death. And we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we would look to God for help, all we deserve from Him is His holy and righteous condemnation . But, thank God, He does not give us what we deserve!
The God Of All Comfort
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul opens his letter to the church in Corinth with the following words of encouragement, “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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” In our affliction, we can cry out to the Lord and find not condemnation and wrath but comfort, because God is not only a God of holiness and righteousness; He is the God of all comfort.
Paul can say this so confidently because we find evidence of it repeatedly in God’s relationship to humanity throughout the ages. In the Garden of Eden, God Himself provided garments of animal skin to comfort Adam and Eve by covering the shame that they had brought on themselves by their sinful choices (cf. Genesis 3:21). When Elijah was running for his life from Queen Jezebel, God comforted him in a very tangible way. “But [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’ And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again” (1 Kings 19:4-6).
Then, when we turn to the pages of the New Testament, it should not surprise us that Jesus, God in the flesh, embodied God’s comfort, as well. He comforted the widow by raising her son who had died (cf. Luke 7:12-15). He comforted the man with leprosy by touching him and cleansing him of the disease (cf. Mark 1:40-42). He miraculously fed the multitude who would have been aching with hunger after being with Him for three days with nothing to eat (cf. Matthew 15:32-38). He went to the Cross to satisfy God’s wrath towards humanity’s sin so that we could live in a reconciled relationship with God (cf. Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-2). Even after His ascension, Jesus comforted Paul with sustaining grace when Paul looked to Him for relief in his suffering. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
Comfort: A Take-And-Give Arrangement
So, rest assured, if this world is taking its toll on you today. You can cry out to God for comfort and He will provide you with the grace you need, a grace that was secured for you through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to reconcile you to God in spite of your sin. May we never stop being amazed by God’s grace! In the words of Phillips, Craig, and Dean [LISTEN HERE]:
Your grace still amazes me Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees ‘Cause Your grace still amazes me
It’s deeper, it’s wider, it’s stronger, it’s higher Than anything my eyes can see
However, having received God’s gracious comfort in your affliction, don’t forget the other side of the coin. “So that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Have you been comforted by the Lord in your affliction? Then be looking for opportunities to comfort others who may be presently experiencing the same type of affliction in which God comforted you. Be an instrument of God’s grace as you point others to the God-Of-All-Comfort!