Real Comfort for Real World Trouble

March 21, 2022

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” 2 Corinthians 1:3

As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching classic sitcoms like Family Ties, Different Strokes, and Full House.  

Looking back, what amazes me about these shows is that no matter what kind of problems the characters faced, everything would somehow resolve in thirty minutes. 

If only real life was like an 80’s sitcom!

Sadly, in the real world, most of our troubles last longer than thirty minutes. 

And they rarely (if ever) resolve in a nice, tidy fashion. 

Many of us find ourselves in the middle of adversity right now.  

We can’t wave a magic wand to make things better.  

We can’t escape. 

And we seriously wonder how we’re going to make it. 

Biblically speaking, the word for this kind of difficulty is, ‘thilipsis.’  This term wasn’t used for minor inconveniences. Instead, it described situations of severe hardship or when someone was under an enormous amount of pressure. 

In other words, I never saw a lot of ‘thilipsis’ play out in an 80’s sitcom, but I’ve seen plenty of it in the real world.    

So had Paul.  

Paul was a certified expert in dealing with continuous ‘thilipsis.’ In fact, I doubt there are any of us who have faced even half the adversity that Paul endured. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 & 11:23-29.) 

So, when Paul speaks about how “God comforts us in all of our troubles (thilipsis),” we should pay extra attention to his words.  The man knows what he’s talking about. 

The first word Paul uses is “praise.”  Personally, I’m challenged by the fact that Paul’s problems never stopped him from praising God. The troubles in his life drove him towards the throne of God in praise, not away from it in frustration and bitterness. 

Paul praises God for who He is -“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Remembering the incredible grace, forgiveness and new life he’d received through Jesus gives Paul (and us) a reason to praise in spite of unpleasant circumstances.  

Next, He praises God as the “Father of compassion” and the “God of all comfort” for the comfort he had received in the past (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) as well as the comfort that continually “overflows from Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5).  

But notice that Christ’s comfort does not remove Paul’s troubles.  Rather, it is a comfort he experienced in the midst of them. It’s not a ‘sitcom-comfort’ that makes problems quickly disappear. It’s a comfort that withstands the messy, painful, and complex troubles in the real world. 

The Greek word for comfort means ‘to come alongside to strengthen.’ Picture the way a runner comes alongside an injured teammate to help them finish the race.  The stronger runner shoulders the weight of his teammate as he hobbles along, enabling him to keep going.   

This same kind of comforting strength that sustained Paul is also available to us.   

In his book, Why Does It Hurt So Much, Ray Stedman writes, “It is amazing to me how many thousands of Christians are dreading facing their daily lives because they feel pressured and stressful…and yet they never avail themselves of God’s provision for that kind of pressure.” 

So, the question becomes –  Why wouldn’t you want to receive all that God has provided? 

Don’t waste any more time – let Him strengthen and comfort you today.

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH