Here at First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, we have faced considerable sufferings of late, including illness, grief, and loss. When afflictions abound, the comforts of Christ also abound. Here are seven ways Christ comforts us in our hurt.
Christ comforts us by his presence. He says in Mt 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. Afflictions are all the more damaging when we feel abandoned. But the presence of Christ can bring us comfort.
Christ comforts us by his love. He says in Jn 15:9, “As the father has loved me, so I have loved you.” Nothing we experience can forfeit Christ’s love for us. Christ loves us with a steadfast love, an understanding love, a forgiving love. When we are damaged in body or discouraged in spirit, we can find comfort in the abiding love of Christ.
Christ comforts us by his strength. Phil 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” There is nothing quite like the comfort of having someone standing with you who’s stronger than your enemies. A bully once came after me in sixth grade, but my friend ran him off. Having a friend stronger than the bully brought me comfort. Similarly, Christ is stronger than any adversity, stress, or disaster that confronts us.
Christ comforts us by his word. Ps 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me.” When afflictions and anxieties encircle us, a few moments reading the gospels can bring us the sweet consolations of Christ’s word. “Do not let yourselves be troubled,” he says, “believe in God believe also in me.” “Do not worry about your life,” he says, but “seek first the kingdom of God.” “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,” he says, “and I will give you rest.” “Blessed are those who mourn,” he says, “for they will be comforted.”
Christ comforts us by his cross. Heb 2:18 says, “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” Christ knows what it is to hurt—physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually—so he can sympathize with us in all our hurts. Since he was oppressed and afflicted, he can help the oppressed and afflicted. The crucified Christ is one with the downtrodden, the marginalized, and the vulnerable. His comfort does not induce passivity but active Christian courage.
Christ comforts us by his resurrection. He says in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” All the enemies that align against us draw their strength from death. Anxiety, illness, and discouragements gain vitality from death. Death is the ultimate enemy (1 Cor 15:26). Yet the one who stands by our side stands victorious over the grave, bringing us comfort even amid peril.
Christ comforts us by his body—the church. In 2 Cor 7:6, Paul says, “God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the arrival of Titus.” Just as the presence of Titus conveyed the comfort of God long ago, the presence of believers can convey God’s comfort to people who are hurting today. In her book entitled Who Am I? Katherine Paterson tells the story of a little boy who was scared to go to bed in a dark room by himself. His mother assured him saying, “Don’t be afraid…God is always with you.” The boy started to cry and said, “But I want somebody with skin on!” As sweet as the spiritual comforts of Christ are, sometimes we all need comfort from somebody with skin on.
In view of the overflowing comforts of Christ, we can say with Paul in 2 Cor 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
Pastor Noel Schoonmaker
First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN