When Paul penned this letter, he had many pressing issues that he needed to address. But, before he writes about them, there’s something else that he can’t keep quiet about: God’s comfort.
He’s been through an exceptionally challenging time, to a point at which, he says, “We despaired even of life”. What the problems facing him were, he doesn’t say; perhaps because the comfort God gave him totally overshadowed them. In the space of just five verses he uses the word ‘comfort’ ten times!
It’s a lovely word. It’s the same as you find in John 14:16 of the Holy Spirit, the ‘Counsellor’. It has to do with ‘coming alongside’ someone. It can mean all sorts of things: ‘encourage’, ‘advise’, ‘counsel’. But whatever best suits the context, the idea of God calling someone into His presence is always there. You could translate 2 Corinthians 2:4 as ‘the God who always calls us into His presence in all our troubles’. It’s that way round: it isn’t that He comes alongside us (although He does) so much as He invites – calls – us to come alongside Him.
When we are troubled, He doesn’t say, “Cheer up, it’s not so bad”. He doesn’t even say, “Oh dear, how awful!” No, He says, “Come here, let me put my arms round you”.
When a child is distressed, it’s not words they need, but hugs. And our Father knows that this is just as true of us, His children. Of course, comforting words are good too; but they aren’t much good without the hug. Yes, God will give us good counsel and good advice for our difficult circumstances. But, first of all, there’s the hug.
It’s almost inevitable, isn’t it, that at some point today you’ll come up against something that troubles you. So, what’ll you do? Find a way of coping? Brush it to one side? Pretend it doesn’t matter? Or come to the welcoming arms of ‘the God of all comfort?
He’s ready and waiting.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, that whenever I run into problems in my life, You are always there, longing to welcome me into Your presence where You will give me all the comfort and encouragement that I need. Whatever the issues that today will bring, please help me to be quick to turn to You, my true Comforter. Amen.
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