If we are in right relationship to God, we experience all that He does within our lives as comfort and joy. Even a word of rebuke from the Lord, or being convicted of sin, is all experienced as comfort and joy. We desire to hear God’s voice, so we receive comfort in hearing anything He says to us. We long to become more pleasing to Him, and we remember the promise that He disciplines those He loves, so there is joy even in a rebuke. We have within us the Holy Spirit and a heart that is responsive to His touch, and so the comfort and joy only increase, due to the reality that we are wired, through right relationship to God, to obey Him.
Genesis 3:8 gives a converse example flowing out of wrong relationship: “Now they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” The sound must have been familiar; we can imagine plenty of afternoons beforehand, when Adam and Eve had hastened their steps toward that sound of God walking in the garden, rejoicing to spend precious time with their perfect loving Creator. After they ate from the tree, God hadn’t changed. The sound of Him coming hadn’t changed. But their relationship to Him had changed, through their sin, and now the approach of absolutely perfect love was experienced as the fearful approach of judgment.
Do you know Him as the God of all comfort and the Father of mercies (2 Corinthians 1:3)? He desires that you know Him in this way; this is the relationship Jesus died on the cross to obtain. Yet, don’t mistake the comfort of God with a comfortable life. God has a way of comforting us with His presence and His Word, even while stretching us beyond our place of comfort in every area of life. In fact, someone once said, “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable,” and this is true. The one who is willing only to go where he feels comfortable is not likely to feel comforted by God’s voice. Paul declared that the Lord “comforts us in all our affliction,” and showed that the greater our suffering in the path of obedience, the greater God’s comfort toward us (1:4-5).
To whom has God called you to minister, care, testify, and embody His love? Think of these people when you go through afflictions. Not only can you be sure that the Holy Spirit will comfort you, but you can also say with Paul, “If [I] am afflicted, it is for [their] comfort and salvation” (1:6). God is going to reveal His comfort to you, form in you a tender compassion toward those who suffer the same things, and then empower you to reflect the same divine comfort into someone else’s life, just as the moon shines forth the sunlight that is shining on it.
The afflicted receive comfort, and those who stand in faith are given joy. Paul told the Corinthians, “We are workers with you for your joy” and the reason was that, “in your faith you are standing firm,” (1:24). As long as they walked in faith, God’s messengers, ministers of the good news, would continue to bring joy to their lives. If you feel dread rather than joy while being counseled or taught, make sure your dread is not actually a response to the Spirit of God or the Word of God through His servant. Seek to hear and obey the Holy Spirit’s voice in your life more and more, because only when we are saying what He is saying and participating in what He is doing can we cause comfort and joy. Lord, help me to freely give what You have freely given to me. And as I do, use my life to bring comfort and joy to everyone who believes and obeys.
The Rock Church