July 07, 2021
Main Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3–8
Psalm 23:4; Psalm 46; Psalm 119:50; John 14:16–17; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 4:14–16; Revelation 21:4
In November 1873, Horatio Spafford planned to take a much-needed family trip to Europe. The past two years had been calamitous for them—their finances took a steep downturn as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 ravaged their properties and burned most of their investments to the ground.
But, what was meant to be a family getaway turned out to be a horrific tragedy.
Impeded by sudden business demands, Spafford was forced to stay behind and sent his family ahead aboard a steamship. While crossing the Atlantic, their ship collided with another vessel, killing all of Spafford’s four daughters. Only his wife survived . . .
Tragedies like this are no longer alien to many of us. Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has killed millions of people and endangered everyone’s lives. The trials we’ve faced have wounded our souls; yet through these gaping cracks, the light of God’s comfort shines through.
This was Paul’s message in his second letter to the Corinthians: God is our comfort. The transcendent God who governs all things from His heavenly throne is also an immanent God who is close to the brokenhearted.
Our heavenly Father is the “God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions.”
God the Son, Jesus, is our Great High Priest who is able to empathize with us and invites us to approach Him with confidence, so we can find mercy and grace in time of need. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, we are comforted by the truth that we are accepted in the throne room of Heaven.
The Holy Spirit is our comforter and counselor, who empowers us and intercedes for us when our grief is beyond words. The word “comforter” came from the Greek word parakletos, which literally means “one who is called near for help.”
In the face of grief, we are certain that the entire Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is by our side when we call for help. This is our comfort and confidence.
Paul, in his writing, didn’t just “know” that God is a God of all comfort. As someone who faced trials of many kinds, he experienced firsthand God’s comfort throughout his life and ministry. Yes, trials and sufferings allow us to experience God’s comfort in tangible ways, in the same way that the darkest of night allows us to behold the beauty of the stars.
As we experience God’s comforting grace, our hearts will overflow with strength and compassion for others. He comforts us “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
After learning through a telegram of his daughters’ demise, Horatio Spafford immediately sailed to England to meet his grieving wife. As his ship passed near the place where his daughters died, he penned the words to this timeless hymn to soothe his broken spirit:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
In this world broken by sin, pain and death are inevitable realities. But God has promised to redeem and restore all things. Someday, He will wipe away every tear, death and sorrow shall be no more, and we will experience permanent joy in the presence of the God of all comfort forever.
Our comfort and hope are deeply anchored on the certainty of God’s promise. May this truth allow us to go through the valley of grief singing, “Whatever my lot, it is well with my soul.”
– Recall a time when you’ve experienced so much grief or hardship. How did you experience God’s comfort during such a difficult time?
– God comforts us in our time of affliction so we can comfort those who are suffering. Who are the people around you that need comfort? What can you do, even in your simple ways, to be God’s channel of comfort to these people?
I cast all my cares upon You, for You are the God of all comfort. Thank You for being my only source of true comfort. You calm the storms that rage in my heart by Your mighty word.
Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me. Through You, I can come boldly before the throne of grace and find mercy in time of need. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for You are my helper, my comforter, and my counselor.
Use me as Your vessel to comfort those in need with the same comfort that I have received. Amen.