Because of our broken condition and human limitations, we often view God in a partial or distorted way. For instance, some people see Him mainly as a harsh judge who condemns, while others think He’s more of a doting grandfather who lovingly overlooks their sin. Neither view is totally accurate, because neither reflects the whole truth of Scripture.
The Lord’s condemnation of sinners and His love for humanity are both essential to His nature and are not at odds with each other. He hates sin while at the same time loving the people He created. God described Himself to Moses as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Ex. 34:6). However, He also added, “Yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (v. 7).
The Lord cares for us enough to reveal Himself in His Word, to send His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, to offer forgiveness through faith, and to make all who trust in Christ His beloved children. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). God’s comfort awaits everyone who turns from sin and comes to Jesus for salvation.
An English dictionary defines comfort as a state of mind in which there is ease from suffering, sorrow, or despair, but the meaning of this word in the New Testament is much richer. The Greek word means to come alongside to give encouragement, help, consolation, or exhortation. And that’s exactly what God does for those who belong to Him.
First, the Lord comforts us as a loving Father. Although God is good in some ways to all people (Matt. 5:45), those who are in Christ have entered into a special relationship with Him as His sons and daughters (Gal. 3:26). When the apostle Paul was going through severe affliction, he wrote, “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” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
This was no small hardship for Paul. He was experiencing crushing pressure and at one point was so excessively burdened beyond his strength that he despaired of life (v. 8). Yet in the midst of his desperation, he was comforted by his heavenly Father, and He will do the same for us. No matter how bad, stressful, or painful our situation is, we have a heavenly Father who understands and cares. He comes alongside to walk with us and carries us through. No one else can console us like the Lord because He alone knows us perfectly.
Second, God comforts us with His Spirit. Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within every believer. In John 14:16, He is aptly called the Comforter (KJV) or the Helper (NASB). Although we may experience seasons of loneliness, in reality, we are never alone. The Spirit is continually with us, reminding us of truth so we can see our troubles from a heavenly perspective. He restores our hope when we are near despair, encourages us to endure hardship when we want to give up, and gives us the strength we need to keep going. Even in the death of a loved one, the Comforter overshadows us with an awareness of God’s grace and compassion.
Third, the Lord comforts us with His Word. The psalmist wrote, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.” (Ps. 119:50). When our feelings overwhelm us, and our faith begins to falter, we can stand on the facts of Scripture as our sure foundation. This is especially important if we are going through suffering, great need, or seemingly insurmountable difficulties.
That’s why it’s so essential to read and meditate on God’s Word regularly. If we don’t know what the Bible says, it cannot give us the guidance and comfort we need in times of trouble. But when we become familiar with Scripture, the Holy Spirit can bring to mind a verse or passage that sustains and encourages us with God’s truth in the midst of our distress.
Fourth, God comforts us in all our afflictions, not just some of them (2 Cor. 1:4). Even if our trouble is caused by our own sinful choices, the Lord comes to our aid because His comfort includes admonishment. We must not forget His exhortation that is addressed to us as His children in Hebrews 12:5: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him.” The only way to find relief from the turmoil of the soul caused by sin is to come back to our heavenly Father in repentance and receive restoration.
Where do you seek comfort? Those without Christ look to the promises and pleasures of this life, but these things can only bring temporary relief. As believers, our first response should be to come to our heavenly Father in prayer, casting all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He is the only One who can give us eternal comfort and hope even if our challenging situations don’t change.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. If you are going through a difficult time, I invite you to contact In Touch Ministries to ask for prayer. It’s a privilege, as Christians, to share with each other encouragement from God’s Word and to petition Him on one another’s behalf (Eph. 6:18). May His comfort bless you today.