God of All Comfort

by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)

Suffering is part of life. It is part of the curse that fell upon all creation after Adam’s sin. (Genesis 3) There are some preachers who have taken sections of the Bible out of context to make it say that suffering happens only to those who “have sin in their life.” Well, I suppose part of that is true. We all sin. However, the suffering that comes upon us is not necessarily a punishment from God for some specific sin. Our tests and trials are painful and stressful. They are tests of faith just as much as they are sickness or mental problems. In fact, God uses our suffering for His own purposes in our hearts as well as in the hearts of those whom we minister to.

I have never met a Christian who has survived some big trial in their life who was not also eager and able to help others who are going through trials like that of their own. Of course there are some professing believers whose faith does not survive the trial. They were not genuine Christians. However, those whose faith is genuine will endure the fires of tribulation. They may indeed have doubts and struggle for long periods of time with trust of God, but He does preserve those who are His.

God’s comfort becomes evident only if we suffer. Look in v4 in the passage I placed at the top of this post. God does not promise that His people will be free from affliction no matter how much the Word/Faith preachers try to make the Bible say that it is possible for Christians to be free from suffering while always prospering. Actually, the Bible teaches that Christians are not immune from the suffering that plagues all of creation. The promise is that Christians will have God’s comfort in and through their afflictions. Why does God do this? He gives comfort to those who are His who are suffering so that they may be able to comfort others who are likewise suffering.

5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:5-7 ESV)

Did Christ suffer? He was beaten, tortured, and crucified. He also suffered mental anguish before and during all of this. All who suffer as a result of their faith in Jesus Christ are sharing abundantly in His sufferings. God then comforts those whom He takes through suffering for the name of Christ. The passage above speaks of persecution or suffering for the sake of faith in Jesus Christ. Is this happening nowadays?

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:10-13 ESV)

All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. No one is exempt. This wasn’t just for Paul’s day. In fact, in most countries in the world today, professing Christians are always in danger of some form of persecution. It is only in the “evangelical wasteland” of America where Christians seem to have protected “rights.” However, even here, if we obey our Lord in all things, living out our lives in bold brokenness, we will find that the world still hates us and we will suffer persecution. The fact that this is a seemingly rare event should not be a comfort to us. In fact, it should indict us that we are not living out our faith as we are directed by God. If we do this, we will suffer some form of persecution, but take courage my brethren because the God of all comfort will give us the grace that is sufficient for all of our circumstances.

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19 thoughts on “God of All Comfort

  1. John 3:19-20 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

    John 15:18-21 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

    1 Peter 4:12 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

    1 John 3:11-13 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

    Four amens amongst many to be found in scripture. The world, the unregenerate, hate God because He is righteous and they are wicked. And as they hate Him, they hate those who are His, too. Jesus tells his familial brothers, who were unregenerate at the time, in John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” God’s children by their life, their treasures, their actions, and their words continually testify that the works of the world are evil. The world goes in one direction and God’s children move in another direction– and the world sees- and hates it. They will not accept that they are wicked and they hate the light and those who walk in the light.

    Thanks Mike for such a reminder. How we need to know this and not be surprised… and also not be defensive. As His children we need to allow “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Cor 13:14 Our joy must be in Him alone and not at all in the circumstances we find ourselves here on earth. He is our joy.

    Kim T

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  2. Thanks for this post Mike. Once again I stand amazed at the manner in which the Holy Spirit orchestrates His message for the people of God!

    I posted a brief missive entitled “Sharing in His Sufferings” just yesterday afternoon!

    May we who are called by His name be found worthy of the high calling that He has placed upon us in Christ!

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  3. Kim,

    Great quotes! Thank you for sharing them. Yes, we must become eternally focused. If we remain temporally focused we will always be in flux in the midst of our suffering.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. Mike,

    How different things might be today if some of these preachers or so called leaders in the west were to experience a fraction of the magnitude of loss and suffering that Job experienced. I believe if this were to happen the amount of leaven presently infecting Christendom in the west would be significantly eradicated.

    Let us pray that these leaders would be given an opportunity in this hour to exhibit Great Faith before a lost and dying world.

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  5. It seems that God is never limited to one purpose or even one method. Our sufferings glorify God, change us into the image of Christ, and are available to help others. I think also they, when Spiritualy received, defeat the devil and his purposes as did the cross from which all sufferings emanate because the end of all sufferings when endure in God’s will comes a resurrection.

    I have many friends and true yokefellows like you Mike but I have only a few “heroes” in the faith. Luther, Finney(not yours I know), Wesley, and others. But one who is still living is Joni Erickson Tada. She will always be an inspiration to me.

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  6. My Brother,
    Another blessing as the Holy Spirit speaks through you. The Lord is always more interested in our Spiritual condition, than He is in our physical comfort.
    Phil

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  7. Rick,

    Yes, I really admire Joni Eridson Tada. She has maintained that steady faith all these years. I think one of the reasons William Tyndale is up there on the top of my list is that he could have very easily avoided capture and even could have escaped, but instead he remained in custody seeking only to do God’s will. His character was Christlike even to those who were getting ready to take his life. I see that level of faith in Joni as well.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  8. I feel that sufferings and afflictions are part and parcel of the christian life and it does not necessarily mean that they would only spring from persecution. Sometimes we have an affliction because God wants to bring out what is good in us, but even that affliction would be painful to us like or more than persecution. Often afflictions to the heart are more painful than pain to the body and reproach of our faith. When loving ones misunderstand us it causes pain and sometimes it could not be only because of our faith. As you said suffering is something which came upon mankind as a result of the original sin. But in the case of Christians suffering has a special meaning because its through suffering that christians learn more about their frailty and learn to trust more in God. All people chosen by God had to suffer trials, be it persecution or torment from the devil. The verse which I have always found very inspiring when it comes to suffering is the one in Isaiah 48:10. “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” From the start of the Bible to the end of it we can see that all of God’s people had afflictions. A christian is definitely marked by the affliction he has, but no one should mistake himself to be a christian because of his affliction 🙂 Just wanted to add these lines from Spurgeon again , its a bit long but definitely worth reading 🙂

    Look at the world in its primeval age, when Adam and Eve are expelled the garden. Behold, they have begotten two sons, Cain and Abel: which of them is the child of God? Yonder one who lies there smitten by the club, a lifeless corpse; he who has just now been in the furnace of his brother’s enmity and persecution—that is the heir of heaven. A few hundred years roll on, and where is the child of God? There is one man whose ears are continually vexed with the conversation of the wicked and who walks with God, even Enoch, and he is the child of God. Descend further still, till you come to the days of Noah. You will find the man who is laughed at, hissed at, hooted as a fool, a simple ton, an idiot, building a ship upon dry land, standing in the furnace of slander and laughter: that is Noah, the elect of God. Go on still through history; let the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, pass before you, and you may write upon all of them: “these were God’s tried people.” Then go down to the time when Israel went into Egypt. Do you ask me to find out God’s people? I take you not to the palaces of Pharaoh, I do not ask you to walk through the stately halls of Memphis, or go to hundred-gated Thebes; I take you to none of the places decked with the splendour, the glories, and dignity of monarchs; but I take you to the brick kilns of Egypt. See yonder slaves smarting beneath the lash, whose cry of oppression goes up to heaven. The tale of their bricks is doubled, and they have no straw wherewith to fashion them. These are the people of God. They are in the furnace. As we follow on in the paths of history, where were God’s family next? They were in the furnace of the wilderness suffering privation and pain. The fiery serpent hissed upon them; the sun scorched them, their feet were weary, they lacked water, and bread failed them, and was only supplied by miracle. They were in no desirable position; but amidst them—for all are not Israel that are of Israel—were the chosen ones, those who were most in the furnace, Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, against whom the people took up stones to stone them; these were the sons of God these were distinguished above their fellows as being elect out of the chosen nation. Still turn over the blessed pages; pass through Judges and come to the time of Saul, and where was God’s servant then? Where is the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Where is the man after God’s own heart? He is in the in the caves of Engedi, climbing the goat tracks, hunted like the partridge by a remorseless foe. And after his days where were the saints? Not in the halls of Jezebel, nor sitting at the table of Ahab. Behold, they are hidden by fifties in the cave, and fed by bread and water. Behold yon man upon the mountain top wrapping his shaggy garment round him; at one time his dwelling is by the rippling brook, where ravens bring him bread and flesh; at another time a widow is his host, whose only possessions are a little oil and a handful of meal—in the furnace Elijah stands, the remnant of God’s chosen people. Take history through; there is no need for me to follow it up, otherwise I might tell you of the days of Maccabees, when God’s children were put to death without number, by all manner of tortures till then unheard of. I might tell you of the days of Christ, and point to the despised fishermen, to be laughed at, and persecuted apostles. I might go on through the days of popery, and point to those who died upon the mountains or suffered in the plains. The march of the army of God may be tracked by their ashes left behind them. The course of the ship of glory may be traced by the white sheen of sufferings left on the sea of time. Like as a comet when it flashes in its glory, leaveth a blaze behind it for a moment, so hath the church left behind it blazing fires of persecution and trouble. The path of the just is scarred on earth’s breast the monuments of the Church are the sepulchres of her martyrs. Earth has been ploughed with deep furrows wherever they have lived. You will not find the saints of God where you do not find the furnace burning round about them. I sup pose it will be so until the latest age. Until that time shall come when we shall sit under our own vine and our own fig-tree, none making us afraid or daring to attempt it, we must still expect to suffer. Were we not slandered, were we not the butt of’ ridicule, we would not think ourselves the children of God. We glory that we stand prominent in the day of battle; we thank our enemies for all their shafts, for each one bears upon it proofs of our Father’s love. We thank our foemen for every stab, for it only cuts our armour and rattles on our mail, never reaching the heart. We thank them for every slander they have forged, and for every lie they have manufactured, for we know in whom we have believed, and know that these things cannot separate us from his love; yea, we take this as a mark of our being called, that we, as the sons of God, can suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake.

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  9. Thanks for sharing that Paul. Spurgeon is a great source of godly wisdom. I find it wonderful that God is using his writings today as if he were still with us.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. It is a comfort to know that His comfort is ALWAYS with us no matter if we are going through trials because of our sins or just because….all are for our sanctification and His glory. Anyway, His comfort is always there. Just read the Bible and one can see how He sends His comfort to us in different ways. Then look around one self and see His comfort and all the other good things He gives us. God is so good.

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  11. Mike…good post.

    The funny thing is that the reason that we are afflicted seems to be so that we will bring forth more fruit.

    …and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
    John 15:2b

    What an amazing promise. If we bear fruit He will prune us. This pruning is not always “comfortable” but is a must for us to be able to continue to bear “much” fruit.

    How would we know the glories of Christ if we never know the depths of our sin? Kind of like saying, “How would we ever know a good day unless we have bad ones?”

    May our eyes stay fixed upon Him no matter the day.

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  12. Sarah, Seth & David

    Thank you all for your encouragement and great comments! But, I am overjoyed when I see God working in your hearts to change you unto Christlikeness.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  13. A great quote from Chambers!

    UNDAUNTED RADIANCE
    “Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Romans 8:37

    Paul is speaking of the things that might seem likely to separate or wedge in between the saint and the love of God; but the remarkable thing is that nothing can wedge in between the love of God and the saint. These things can and do come in between the devotional exercises of the soul and God and separate individual life from God; but none of them is able to wedge in between the love of God and the soul of the saint. The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary, a love we never can and never shall merit. Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerors in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have but for the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

    The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it – “I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation,” says Paul.

    Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter. The experiences of life, terrible or monotonous, are impotent to touch the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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  14. Amen Sherry! Thanks for sharing this. I really like Oswald Chambers. I used to use My Utmost for His Highest in my morning devotionals. I will do so again, but right now I am using one by Martin Luther. I like to rotate between two or three that really speak to my heart. The other one I use is by J.I. Packer.

    We need to have the truths you shared in your comment made apparent to our hearts daily. If not then we get lazy and self-absorbed. I ask God to plow my heart with these deep truths to grow Christ’s character in me, cleanse me, and inspire me. Yes, I do ask for inspiration.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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