January 18 – The God of All Comfort

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18 – The God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Paul usually begins his letters by thanking God for his readers, and then mentions his prayers for the church to whom he writes.  In this second letter to the Corinthians, he starts out quite differently.

Paul has run into some trouble with the church in Corinth. There are people who have come in from the outside and have tried to take them away from his teaching, casting suspicion on him and forcing the Corinthians to call his motives into question. So, rather than thanking God for this church, he begins the letter by asking the church to care for him.  By the end of the letter, we do see that the church has repented and Paul’s joy is made complete in their return to the teachings he offers regarding the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

But, Paul has also been through a great amount of suffering and it is to his friends in Corinth that he turns for comfort.  He was a traveler who spent most of his time in the homes of others, building up the body of Christ.  He didn't have a permanent family who was there to tell him that he was worthwhile at the end of the day and to remind him of the worth of his work.

So, when it came right down to it, all Paul had were those people in the churches he had begun.  It is often said that we humans are the only way God has arms and words of comfort for those who are in need.  It is up to us to respond when others hurt.  Paul rejoices in the God of all comfort because he relies on those whom he loves and cares for to deliver that comfort to him when he has nowhere else to go.

The church in Corinth needed to be reminded of their responsibility to care for Paul.  Who do you need to be reminded to care for?