For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favour bestowed on us through the prayers of many. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:5-11
The Apostle Paul wrote this introduction, roughly 3 years after spending 18 months in Corinth establishing their church. In these 3 years and in the years that followed, Paul and his companions had experienced terrible ordeals; beatings, stoning, lashings, dangers from robbers, dangers from the Jews, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea and dangers among false brethren (2 Corinthians 11:26); he would spend many nights thirsty, hungry and cold outside without clothing. Yet he spoke and wrote with confidence, “our comfort is abundant through Christ”, “we have set our hope on Him”, “He will deliver us”.
In times of distress we often cannot find comfort, even from friends, family or those who are praying for us. However those among us who are truly born again will always have Someone to turn to, for the same God who redeemed us and sanctifies us also promised to give us peace and comfort us when we trusted in Him. While the world seeks to provoke doubt and fear about our present and future situations, Christ and the Holy Spirit speak of giving us rest, His Word tells us to never lose heart; Psalm 119:50 puts it better in one line than any theologian could in any 500 page book;
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Word has given me life”. Psalm 119:50
The unsaved may find temporary comfort in worldly wisdom, in family or in money but they without God’s Word they will never have everlasting comfort, they will never have everlasting peace and without faith in Christ they will never have everlasting life. How could they ever be comfortable if they truly knew that and did nothing? None of the Old Testament authors or New Testament apostles had a comfortable life, we know this from their letters but one thing they also all had in common was that in their times of trouble they cried out to God in prayer, others prayed on their behalf and most importantly He heard them. Prayer is essential, it is as much a part of the Christian life as food and water are in the natural life, not only to pray in times of personal need but to pray for one another, to pray in times of joy as well as sorrow. That is how they found comfort in Christ, simply by talking to Him and believing His promises. Man cannot see or know the future for sure, this is what leads to fear, doubt and worry, but knowing that God was for them and with them throughout their trials, having this faith gave the Apostle Paul certainty that he would have assured comfort and hope in Christ for now and for evermore.
After writing this I was looking through my Matthew Henry commentary for 2 Corinthians and found a beautiful description of Gods mercy and comfort which He continually bestows upon us, even though we don’t deserve it.
The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord. Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under obligation to trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty, not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to ourselves and others. ~ Matthew Henry