The word “comfort” is an interesting word. As a noun, it can mean “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” That’s the kind of comfort that I like. I like comfortable living – living without fear, without pain, without constraint – I like the easy life. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either. I think most people, if given the choice, would elect for comfort.
Comfort is an interesting word, though, because the word itself acknowledges that the easy life does not always come. For comfort can also mean “the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” If we use it as a verb, it means “to ease the grief or distress” of others. It is the thing that we do when we see other people are uncomfortable, or grieving, or distressed. We try to ease their burdens.
Paul reminds us in our passage above that God is the God of all comfort. Noun and verb alike, God seeks to bring us comfort. Not only is He the one who gives us “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), but He is also the one who comes to sit with us in our misery, to commiserate with us when we are down and out.
What are the areas in your life today where you are experiencing ease and freedom? Take a few minutes to write out a list and thank God for the comfort that he has given you in these areas. It can be good to reflect sometimes on the things that aren’t stressing us out, because usually the things that are stressing us command all our attention.
We won’t ignore those areas of stress, though. After you have your list of areas in which you feel comfortable, take some time to write out a list of the areas where you feel in need of comfort. Reflect upon this list and take the time to pray about each individual burden, asking the God of all comfort to show comfort to you in these areas. Don’t fall into the trap of limiting comfort to one particular outcome. Simply ask God for comfort, and leave it to Him to decide how creatively to answer that prayer.
It may not take the form that you expect (God can be pretty creative, after all), but comfort does come to us in this life. It might be through a friend, through a situation or event, through a new attitude or a new mindset, perhaps simply through a new resolution to find meaning in the midst of trials – be open to God providing comfort to you in ways outside of your expectations and imaginations.
But trust that He will bring comfort. And when he does, then use the comfort that you have found to likewise turn and be a source of comfort to someone else. It is a beautiful thing when we can come alongside someone to provide comfort in the same way that we received comfort from God. And when you do, don’t be surprised if you become an unexpected answer to someone else’s prayer. God is very good at intersecting our lives together so that we can provide care for one another and be an answer to prayer.
I hope that, whether it is a noun or a verb, comfort can abound in your life. In fact, I hope that it can abound so much that it overflows and spills into the lives around you. May you have comfort, may you find comfort, and may you provide comfort to others today and every day to come.