“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 receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
The idea of “comfort” implies at least two parties: one who gives the comfort and one who receives it. It also implies a need—one that Scripture speaks of exclusively for humans. Animals have no capacity to receive spiritual comfort. The holy angels have no need for comfort. Satan and his demons are eternally beyond it (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9, 12; 20:10). Only humans—higher than the animals, lower than the angels, and composed of body, soul, and spirit—were created with the capacity to receive and give comfort, and we live in a world where we need it.
Bound in time like animals, yet with a sense of our own eternity like angels (Ecclesiastes 3:11), we humans suffer distress in a unique “three-dimensional” way—past, present and future. We remember previous distresses and are filled with grief or regrets (Genesis 37:35; Matthew 26:75). We face each day’s troubles and worry (Matthew 6:25–32). We reflect on these things and dread what may come next (verse 34). And beyond these worldly matters is that most distressing sensation of all, the guilt for having deeply, inexcusably offended our good and righteous Creator and Judge (James 2:10–11; Revelation 6:16).
Believers in Christ have a comfort from God that includes a true freedom from guilt. For Christians, our righteous Judge is also our loving Savior (John 3:16–17)—a sharp contrast with the terrifying assortment of distant, cruel, or unappeasable deities of the ancient world into which Paul brought the good news of free, complete and irrevocable forgiveness, reconciliation, and adoption (Romans 3:23–25; 2 Corinthians 5:11–21; 1 John 3:1–2).
In 2 Corinthians 1:3, God is called the “Father of compassion” and the “God of all comfort.” In His mercy and love, God is eager to provide comfort to His children in any and all circumstances. Whatever the trial we face, our Heavenly Father knows the situation and offers comfort as needed. The fact that He is the God of all comfort teaches that all comfort ultimately comes from Him. He is our source of peace and happiness and blessing.
The comfort we Christians receive flows through us to others “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Like grace, comfort is an active, powerful gift to be not merely received but actively shared with others, supernaturally multiplied to advance God’s kingdom (Matthew 25:14–30). And so the Bible commends those who are simply with people in trouble, such as those who are sick or in prison, whether or not we can change their circumstances (Matthew 25:36–40). In bringing comfort to those in trouble, we glorify God by giving a glimpse of how He comforts those who are in distress.
All three Persons of the Trinity participate in comforting us just by being with us. That is enough. The Father is always with us, as He was with Moses (Exodus 3:12) and the nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:6–8). So, too, are the Son (Matthew 28:20; John 14:18) and the Spirit (John 14:16–17). Hence, Paul confidently ends his letter to the Corinthians with the beautiful blessing: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
The Spirit—the Parakletos, rendered “Comforter,” “Counselor,” or “Helper” in different translations—is how Jesus keeps His promise to always be with us as the God of all comfort. One meaning of the Greek root word para is “close beside.” All three Persons of the Trinity live with and in believers (John 14:17, 22)—very close indeed! As a result, no past, present, or future distress can separate us from God and His love for us in Christ (Romans 8:35). We are not only comforted in our troubles, but we are “more than conquerors” in them (verses 30–39). When we turn our worries into prayers, “the God of peace will be with [us]” (Philippians 4:6–9).
In the end, when we finally leave the temporary troubles of this life and enter the permanent joy of the next, our Heavenly Father will forever comfort each one of us, wiping away every tear (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4), welcoming us into a world where comfort is no longer needed because there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We will enjoy the God of all comfort forever.