This verse from 2 Corinthians has been a weighty truth for our family for many years bringing much hope and also many reasons to fight for joy: There is present comfort in whatever brokenness we walk through.
We memorized 2 Corinthians 1 as a family back in May 2012, one year before Jackson died (see notecard / TULIP card below). These words were true before he died and it has proven to be true somehow in even more and deeper ways after he died.
I remember back in 2019 walking downtown Omaha near where I work on a number of walks just processing every single phrase, every single word in this verse, over and over again in my mind. As is true on all “meditation”, the real good stuff normally starts to be seen after the first 23 minutes of just sitting on these words :-). There is something quieting about this focus to hear what God’s Spirit somehow says in using God’s spoken words over us.
In four column format that I love to read in the WSJ or NYT, here is what I heard in the comfort I am continuing to receive from the God who is defined here among other gods as this God is the God of ALL comfort:
Click on the picture below OR scroll further down to see the article here on this page.
There is Present Comfort for All Afflictions: There are at least four key aspects to real comfort that we see in this verse.
1. God’s comfort does not run out. There is boundless comfort with God. Look at the two plural pairs: God in line 1 with God of all comfort in line 2, and Father in line 1 with Father of mercies in line 2. It is because Christ has reconciled us to this God and Father that his many mercies and ALL comforts can come to us. He does not just comfort one way. It is unique for each of the ways he has wired each of his sheep.
2. If you are bitter, you will have no balm. Will we be able to do something helpful for others, bringing them healing ointment or balm as it were for their grief? If we lay down in the furnace of our grief or suffering in bitterness and despondency, we won’t experience this comfort. If we don’t learn and feel the comfort that God provides when Jackson dies, we will be powerless to help when we watch somebody else we love deeply suffer. We will want to give them help and we will have nothing to offer. We will not be able. We will just sit there and be brokenhearted. Do you want helpful words to say? Don’t lay down in your furnace. He is there with you to bring this comfort.
3. Grief and comfort are not linear. What difference do present tense verbs make? Six years later, I am getting what I need today for comfort after Jackson died. We get real comfort today from God the Father. The verse could have said, I had affliction and I had comfort and with that past comfort I help those today who suffer. But no, our present comfort for this lasting past brokenness is what we use today to help others.
4. Comfort for my affliction will relate. There is a relationship between the words “ALL” and “ANY” in this verse. Since I will not experience every affliction known to mankind, how can I relate to someone experiencing another affliction that I have never had? The truth here is that the comfort of God that I experience in ALL my affliction relates to ANY affliction someone else experiences. Jackson’s death gives me something to say to any loved one not just those who lost 16 year old sons in car crashes.
What is included in “afflictions”? Paul gives a helpful list in 2 Corinthians 12: weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. John Piper makes the point that it is anything that Satan and his dominion aim to ruin your faith in God being Good and for you.
Note card / TULIP Card:
Love how you outlined all this and even more, how you apply this to your life. It’s inspiring to watch Eric. Giving out of our need is powerful