Paul (aka Boyfriend) encourages the Corinthian believers by reminding them that God is full of mercy and has endless arms to which He can love on us (BIV* paraphrase). The definition of mercy in the Bible is not quite what we think of in today’s term. Today mercy usually means that we cease to deliver a punishment that is justly deserved; or refraining from dishing out pain and punishment usually out of pity (BIV*). But that’s not the best definition according to The Handbook of Biblical Values. Dr. Pilch notes that an ancient context of mercy is better rendered as steadfast love.
Paul also says that God is the God of ALL comfort. Not some comfort, or a little bit of comfort, but ALL comfort! The word comfort used here to to make strong, impart strength, to encourage, and to fortify. When the earth on which we stand trembles and we stumble around looking for comfort, God is there. When we feel like we are surrounded in darkness and can't see the light, God is there. When our hearts ache and break from the trials of Life, God is there.
How do I know this? How can I speak with conviction and persuasion? Because I'm living it out. Through poverty, God has been there. Through obesity, God has been there. Through adversity, God has been there. Through loneliness, God has been there. Through bruised, beaten, and battered heartbreaks, God has been there. Through cancer, asthma, and hydrocephalus, God has been there.
1 Corinthians 1:7 ...our hope for you is not shaken, for as you have shared in our suffering, you will also share in our comfort J The words Paul gave me for comfort, I pass along to you. God will never leave us nor has He forgotten about us (Deut. 31:6). Maybe you are physically sick and need comfort, God is there. Perhaps you're psychologically sick and life is too overwhelming to continue on, God cares. Maybe it's an emotional sickness residing in your heart, God wants to heal you.
God is the God of ALL comfort.
The question that begs to be answered is, how will you stand in the face of affliction, the depths of despair, in the choke of the challenge? Martin Luther King, Jr. beautifully said, The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Tomorrow we'll take a look at a woman from the bible who stands before Jesus in the face of challenge and controversy and comes out fully experiencing the God of all comfort.
*BIV=Bianca International Version