A British evangelist, Warner Pidgeon, relates a story that occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria.
The Queen heard that the wife of a common laborer had lost her baby. Having experienced deep sorrow herself, she felt moved to express her sympathy. So she called on the bereaved woman one day and spent some time with her. After she left, the neighbors were curious, “What did the Queen say? They asked.
“Nothing,” replied the grieving mother. “She simply put her hands on mine, and we silently wept together.”
This story reminds me of a statement made regarding Job’s three friends who came to see him after his children had died, his wealth had been wiped out, and he sat devastated and suffering with sores from head to toe. “No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13).
Extending comfort is one of the approximately 59 “one another” commands found in the New Testament regarding our mutual reciprocal relationships.
There are basically two groups of people reading today’s post. One is hoping someone will just come and hold their hand a bit through the hurts of life. And the other group are the ones who are able to extend their hands to soothe the souls of those who are troubled.
The word “comfort” literally means “to call to one’s side. To summon. To come alongside of.” Thayer writes that the Greek word means “to entreat, to console, to comfort, to encourage, to strengthen, to offer solace.”
Our model for comforting one another is found in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Our Father is called “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3). In Psalm 23, David speaks of Jehovah as the Shepherd able to provide, guide, lead, and comfort. God is not a spectator of our suffering. He’s not aloof to our pain. He is not indifferent to our trials and troubles. God sees. God hears. God cares. God comforts (I Pet 5:7.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself pronounced a divine blessing on those that mourn and promised comfort (Matt. 5:4). He came that we might find rest for our weary souls, experience peace of mind, and receive comfort for our disquieted hearts (Matt 11:28-30).
Interestingly, the very word translated “comfort” is used to describe the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16). He’s called “the Comforter.” While there is some mystery surrounding His work, we know we are the recipients of His gift, that He dwells in us, and that He intercedes for us in prayer before the Father’s throne (Ax 2:38; 2Tim. 1:14; Rom. 8:26).
There are so many occasions where we have the opportunity to comfort one another.
In times of sickness, we need comfort. In Jesus’ description of the righteous on the judgment day he says, “I was sick and you visited me” (Matt. 25: 26). When we comfort the sick, we’re ministering to the Savior himself. Scripture records that Jesus often laid his hands on the sick. So did Paul and the apostles. I wonder if there is not something symbolic in that act. The human touch. Caring. Consoling. And comforting.
When ensnared by sin, we need comfort. While there is a time and place for rebuke, Paul admonishes that we seek to restore a brother caught in transgression with gentleness and humility. Not with self-righteous accusation and recriminations. He calls it “bearing one another burdens” (Gal. 6:1-2). It’s comforting one another.
When death invades the sanctity of our homes and breaks our hearts, we need comfort. Regardless of the situation, death stings. But some more than others. Accidents. Suicide. Murder. The premature death of a young mother or father. The death of a child. These hurt.
Just like Christians were there for the family of Dorcas in Acts 9 weeping, sharing, talking and comforting, we need to be there one another.
In speaking of death, the apostle Paul offers comfort for those whose loved ones died in the Lord. That they are safe in the arms of Jesus. And will be victorious in the resurrection. He ends that treatise writing, “Therefore comfort one another will these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).
Words of Scripture are a wonderful way for us to offer comfort to others. The Psalmist penned, “This is my comfort in my affliction, for your word has given me life” (Ps 119:50).
Here are 9 situations in which you can find comfort from the God of all comfort and can comfort one another.
♦When you are discouraged, read Isa 40:28-31.
♦When other people forsake you, let you down, or even seek to harm you, read Ps. 27.
♦When you feel weak and lack courage, read Josh 1:7-9.
♦When you have financial concerns, read Matt. 6:19-21.
♦When you need comfort in old age, read 2 Cor 4:16-18.
♦When you feel life is treating you badly, read Rom. 8:34-37.
♦When your faith wavers, read Heb. 11.
♦When God seems far away, read Ps. 139.
♦When threatened by danger, read Ps 23.
Our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation today are experiencing a great deal of discomfort. Look to the God of comfort for help and hope. And comfort one another.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman