God of All Comfort
Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
In his second letter to the Corinthian believers, the apostle Paul highlights an interesting concept that he shares with them and he does this so that they will be informed, with a greater understanding of how God works in the life of the Christian to recreate the character of God, the Son in us. This is an extremely important concept that Christians need to literally bathe themselves in because it is what God is doing in each and every authentic Christian.
The believers in Corinth were young in the faith. They were also immature. Having a background steeped in Greek philosophy and religion, they tended to carry over many of those false notions and ideas from the practices of their past into the present, to which Paul tried to correct where they were wrong, affirm where they were right, and illustrate where they were confused. Let’s take a look
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6 ESV)
Notice first that Paul tells us that God is “the Father of mercies” as well as the “God of all comfort.” Clearly, this truth is often repeated throughout the Scriptures, whether from the Old or the New Testaments. God deigns to comfort us. First, He does so by offering us salvation and He does so freely.
God did this because of His infinite love for humanity. But this love is merely one side of God’s character. His other attributes, including His anger at sin and His eventual judgment of it upon those who continually reject His salvation, His holiness and all other things that combine to make Him God, are just as important as His love. Society continues to ignore these other attributes to their own peril. Often, God is seen as simply the “doting grandfather” who let’s all sin go by unnoticed because He “loves” us. This could not be further from the truth. No human parent says they love their children but refuse to discipline them when needed. How much more will God do the same?
God is the God of all comfort. He longs to comfort us, but this does not mean that “bad” things will never happen to us, does it? No, it does not and implies that “bad” things will happen. God never promises to keep bad things away from us. He allows them for a very important reason, which we’ll get to in a moment. In fact, He comforts His children who undergo various types of trials and problems in this life, whether in the secular, political, or personal realms.
Remember Jesus said that in this world we would experience trials and tribulations. He followed that up with the fact that He had overcome the world and because of it we should not fear (John 16:33; cf. Romans 8).
Verses 4 and 5 of the above 2 Corinthians passage assures us that we will have tribulations we encounter in this life, but rather than remove those trials, God promises to comfort us in the midst of them. Notice also verse 6: “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” Here Paul is telling us experiencing and enduring trials with the attitude that Christ exhibited (and was prevalent in Paul’s life as well), is the way to allow God to recreate the character of His Son.
Moreover, there is another benefit to these sufferings for the Christian. Once we experience some of the trials and tribulations that life offers and comes to us as only allowed by God Himself, not only is more of Christ’s character recreated within us, but we have the added benefit of being able to minister to people who are going through the same thing within Christ’s Body. This is extremely important because it is how the Body of Christ (the true Church), extends God’s grace and comfort to one another!
As I’ve shared previously, because of what my wife has recently gone through (and I with her at least emotionally), we are both in a better position to help others who are going through the same situation. In fact, my wife has already been able to refer to her situation as a means of how God’s grace and comfort was expressed to both her and me.
But even if you do not go through the same type of thing, as a Christian, we are called on to help, to comfort, and to extend grace to other people, especially those of the household of faith. When my wife came home after her mastectomy, the outpouring of love, concern, and prayers from people in our church as well as those not associated with any church was astounding. People extended themselves with meals, visits, phone calls and simply to express that they were praying.
More recently, our son-in-law experienced a severe back problem that is still being diagnosed as I write this. Because of our situation and the fact that my wife is still off recuperating, we have been able to travel there and help take care of him and get them caught up with what’s not being taken care of because of emergency room and doctor’s visits.
The actual benefits of going through trials and tribulations are for our benefit due to the potential growth that can occur. Things these do not happen to cause our demise or defeat. We learn to be and live more like Jesus. It’s kind of like cutting out a design from a piece of wood. Rough cuts are often made to outline the piece, then a scroll saw might be used and finally, sanding before wood is treated or painted.
Trials and tribulations “rough cut,” “sand,” and ultimately perfect us so that our character becomes more like Christ’s. However, part of it is at least up to us, isn’t it? We need to submit to the trials that come our way so that we will be in sync with God’s purposes for us.
Recall when the apostle Paul (Saul before his conversion), was traveling around hauling Jewish Christians into prison or even standing by as Jewish Christians like Steven were stoned to death for “blasphemy” (Acts 7). As Saul traveled to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him and asked Saul why he was persecuting “Jesus.” Saul asked who it was who was speaking to him and the response was “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…” (Acts 9:5). When Paul related this experience later in the book of Acts, he explained it like this: “‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14).
Unbeknownst to Paul, he was kicking against the goads. This a figure of speech that refers to cattle going through a chute to direct their steps to another location. As they’re going, sometimes, they dig in and refuse to move ahead. They will also sometimes lash out and kick against “goads” that are designed to keep them moving forward. This kicking against the goads inflicts a bit of damage on the cattle, hopefully teaching them that they shouldn’t do this.
Paul was doing the same thing spiritually. He was working against his own benefit because he had not yet understood who Jesus was and all that he accomplished for humanity. Paul was fighting God.
God has a plan for you and for me. Beyond this He has a very capable plan for this world. We are watching things unfold and God’s will is going to be accomplished whether anyone likes it or not.
As Christians, we must adopt an attitude of humility so that when difficult and trying experiences come into our lives, we will be able to bear up under them because of our faith in God.
From time to time, regular readers know that I deal with political themes; what’s happening in life itself, the United States and the world. These are all related to God’s plan for the ages. His sovereignty will come to pass, whether anyone likes it or not. God’s will is being accomplished in the secular, political, and spiritual realms. This is why I will delve into political topics from time to time, though discussing politics is not my favorite. I do it because I believe Christians need to be aware of what’s going on in the political realm but this always needs to be married to the understanding that God is fully in charge, regardless how things may look to us because of our limited understanding.
Donald Trump is our 45th president, for better or worse. In spite of how things may appear, God’s plan is still unfolding without a hitch. I disagree with folks who believe Trump is our modern-day Cyrus and I’ve dealt with that previously. I don’t believe he is necessarily a Christian either, though he certainly appears to be unafraid to refer to God in the Judeo-Christian sense. I see a huge problem with the many “prophetic” voices crying out today about how Trump is God’s anointed and how God is going to take back America. While Trump may yet continue to accomplish good things for the USA, not long after his tenure, another person will become president who may easily try to undo what President Trump has accomplished. Why do I think that? For the sole reason that God’s Word outlines the direction this world is going to take and it clearly demonstrates the summation of all things. It’s plainly obvious except to those who choose to allegorize Scripture instead of seeking the literal meaning of it.
President Trump was elected ostensibly because he cares about this country a great deal. He wants to seek the best for the USA. The Left loves to point out Trump’s immorality while they completely ignore the many more problems facing Bill Clinton and other high-profile people within the Democrat Party. It’s a bit of a joke to me. If, as a Christian, I’m only allowed to vote for people who have very high moral standings, I’d probably have few people to vote for, but the Left uses this argument because it’s meant to shame. It doesn’t shame me since I didn’t vote for Donald J. Trump to be the pastor of my church, in which case, he would not receive my vote. He appears to be someone who wants to bring the USA back under the Constitutional moorings upon which this country was founded, but over decades, Cultural Marxism has been at work to move us away from that toward globalism. The reason to vote for Trump was clear to me. He was the best candidate at the time who had the best chance of winning. Certainly, Hillary Clinton would have been an abysmal choice as would have Bernie. Others might have evidenced greater moral fiber, but with very little chance of winning. In essence, to vote for them would’ve been to vote for Hillary.
The truth is that – and I’ll continue to say this repeatedly because it needs to sink in – regardless of what President Trump may or may not accomplish, it is very likely that after he is out of office, the bridge to Marxism may once again continue where it left off. It has to happen because of what God’s Word indicates. There will come a time when the world will be one both politically and religiously. God has not only predicted it but foreordained it because of His perfect plans for humanity and this world.
Consider the Tower of Babel (Genesis 10-11). At that point, the world was nearly one in culture, in voice, in ideology, led by the notorious Nimrod, a hunter of men. The timing however, was not according to God’s sovereign schedule so God divided the people along cultural and language lines. Did Satan give up? Hardly, yet it’s taken him thousands of years to get to that point again and we are not yet there. It’s coming, but we are not yet there.
This is why the political climate can be an important barometer for determining where we are in God’s plan. But it is not fool-proof and we should not put too much stock in it. Too many Christians put their faith in modern day “prophets” instead of God’s already written Word.
Because American citizens who are also Christians live under the Constitution (making America the only Constitutional Republic that exists), politics is often intertwined with our daily living and practice. Politics affects our lives and the problem is when politics becomes too large or encroaches on our lives. We, as citizens who also vote, have the ability to change things. However, we must always understand that God and God alone is the One who directs/allows the affairs of humanity.
There must be a balance. American Christians should definitely vote because we have the right. We should take advantage of the rights recognized and guaranteed under the Constitution just as the Left often tries to subvert those rights (and we’ll talk about their attacks on the First and Second Amendments in an upcoming article). If we don’t do what we are legally allowed to do, then we have failed. Our efforts might fail anyway, but if we don’t vote, we’ve already failed.
Having said all this, it is important to understand that regardless of our political stance and how much we are involved in politics, God is sovereign. He is above all and over all. He controls the political climate and the direction this world moves. Do not put your faith in the political process, but in God alone.
Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective