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. 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. 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 1:3-7 ESV
The basic concept for comfort in both the Old and New Testaments is encouragement, whether by words or the presence of another to help in time of need. Synonymous words are console, help, give relief, cheer up, exhort, and fear not. Great Leaders learn how to comfort. God is not only the creator God who consoles, but he comes in time of calamity and gives help. The gospel is given in Isaiah 40:1, where he exhorts, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” The final twenty-six chapters of Isaiah are often called “the volume of comfort” with its promise of present comfort and the future promise of the suffering servant who comes to give hope, help, and release — “to comfort all who mourn” (ibid 61:3). The command of Moses to not be afraid (Exodus 14:13; 20:20) is a command intended to bring comfort to the people. Isaiah intends to bring comfort as he echoes God’s presence among his people: “So do not fear, for I am with you” (ibid 41:10). Just like the old Testament prophet Isaiah had a ministry of COMFORT, we too should learn how to comfort. If we want to be LIKE JESUS then we must become COMFORTERS.
Leader, the word comfort in the NEW TESTAMENT is Parakaleo. It is one of the oldest and richest words in the Greek language. The compound—para, “alongside,” and kaleo, “to call,” conjured up at least five vivid pictures to the Greeks. It was used to mean: To rekindle a flame. It pictured someone gently, patiently blowing on dying embers to bring a fire to life again. To call forth comfort. Parakaleo pictured the cries of a frightened child in the night calling for the comfort and reassurance of his father. It was to call a physician. Parakaleo pictured someone who was injured calling for a physician to set his broken bone or bind his wound. Parakaleo was to stabilize the troops. It pictured the military officer who, in the heat of battle, could calmly encourage, exhort, and steady the frightened soldiers in his ranks. It was also to plead one’s case. Parakaleo pictured the counsel for the defense, making an appeal for his client before a judge.
Conduit, Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would be the Parakletos—the Encourager, the Helper, the Consoler, the Comforter—who would take His place. All the things that Jesus was to the disciples, the Holy Spirit would be, when Jesus was gone. The Spirit would do in the disciples what the Lord in the flesh could only do for them. Notice as we look back at our original text we are to look to GOD for our COMFORT. By the end of the letter, it is NOW called upon us, it is US WHO IS TO COMFORT EACH OTHER. We can do that with words, with deeds, with prayers, with sustenance like food, money, clothes, opportunity. Today, consider WHO needs comforting in your life and HOW have you been at the discipline of COMFORT? Are you being Christ to ANY, or MANY? HOW MUCH COMFORT ARE YOU BRINGING? Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11) What would JESUS DO? He WILL and DOES COMFORT! That is why it is called the GOODNEWS!