“Are the comforts of God too small for you, or the word that deals gently with you?” Job 15:11
I believed in and rested in the comfort of God before Kim’s death. Everyone, including me, needs comfort. Comfort is a gift at salvation. However, Comfort is a Person. God’s presence is with us through the gift of the Spirit. And Comfort is built upon his grace, mercy, peace, love, and hope. Comfort came to us when we were far off from God. It was God’s doing; it was not our doing.
I love David Powlison’s description of comfort: “…God’s transformative compassion, the perfect union of kindness and candor.” Candor is important because you must not diminish loss. Further, you need to recognize you do not deserve such a gift. Brokenness, loss, and guilt create a context to recognize the beauty of the gift of comfort. And as Tim Challies has said in his book, Seasons of Sorrow, “…comfort is closely related to submission.”
God’s kindness is more profoundly recognized in the context of facing profound loss.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Ultimate comfort comes after we are broken and mourn over our sin. Comfort is an unlikely gift for the person who comes under conviction, repents of their sin, and trusts in Christ’s blood to redeem them. Comfort. In humility, we don’t expect it. However, in his extravagance, he lavishes comfort upon his creation.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
So, the Spirit—our Helper or Comforter—is a gift given at salvation. It’s a gift that is reserved for those who believe. He is our constant companion—forever, says John. Comfort is delivered once and for all.
However, on that foundation, grace, mercy, peace, love, and hope provide moment-by-moment comfort in every situation. We are not immune to pain, difficulty, sickness, or loss. Comfort, in affliction, is available because of the trustworthiness of our promise-giving and promise-keeping God. Yes, he is with us through his Spirit, the Comforter. Comfort received and experienced is a result of overwhelming grace, mercy, peace, love, and hope. Tim Keller calls it “incomparable comfort.”
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50
Because of the mercies of God, we are comforted in our affliction. And in God’s sovereign design, our comfort is not only for us. We are to comfort others with our comfort. Comfort is to be contagious. We are to reinvest the comfort we’ve received. In their book, Suffer Strong, Katherine and Jay Wolf write, “For a God who wastes nothing and withholds no good thing, it’s fitting that he creates a perpetual circuit of hope and comfort through us as living conduits.” Once you receive comfort, you start infecting others with comfort.
“…the intention of our heavenly Father, when he finds us in sorrow and ministers comfort to us, is not merely to get us through the trial, to strengthen us to endure for ourselves the pain or loss, but also to prepare us for being comforters of others.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
Our affliction and the comfort we receive open our eyes to others who are afflicted. We comfort them with the overflow of our own comfort. In other words, our comfort is intended to be contagious. We share in only a taste of the sufferings of Christ; but we share in abundant comfort.
Here’s my testimony: The Comforter really does deliver abundant and contagious comfort.
“There is compensation for our suffering if we are enabled to comfort others with our own comfort.” Vance Havner, Though I Walk Through the Valley
“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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:4-6