“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 so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
God entrusts comfort to us, often through trials, so that we may comfort others.
The nation of Ireland is nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” for good reason—it contains some of the greenest countryside of any location on earth. In visiting there I have noticed that abundant mist and fog, which often shroud the rolling landscape, help produce the rich green grass and trees. That phenomenon is much like the Christian life. Many times when our life is obscured by the sufferings and sorrows of trials, it has a refreshing beauty of soul that is not always readily seen. As the apostle Paul’s life demonstrates, sensitive and merciful hearts are the products of great trials.
Difficulties beset us so that God might bestow much comfort on us. But such comfort is not merely for our own benefit. The Lord entrusts His comfort to us that we might share it with others, as verse 4 of today’s passage indicates. And He comforts us in direct proportion to the number of trials we endure, which means the more we suffer, the more God comforts us; and the more He comforts us, the more we can comfort others who are hurting.
When we do experience real comfort in the wake of a trial, perhaps the most precious result is the sense of Christian partnership we feel. If God’s comfort helps us to comfort others, then it’s clear that other believers are positively affected by what we learn from our trials. The entire process lifts us beyond ourselves and shows us that as part of a local fellowship or the greater Body of Christ we are not alone and do not have to undergo various trials in a vacuum.
The comfort we receive and the sense of partnership that results is a great incentive for any of us to be encouraged through trials and sufferings, knowing that such experiences enable us to minister as integral parts of the Body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:26; 2 Cor. 1:6-7). (John MacArthur)