Have you ever known people who, despite tragedy, were able to offer comfort to others? Where do those who are able to comfort others while enduring their own tragedy receive the strength to help others?
Here's a news story from the Navy's military website from the 19th of this past week. It says:
As thousands of people and billions of dollars come flowing into Haiti from around the world, the U. S. Navy could be supplying one of the most vital pieces of the relief effort—the hospital ship USNS Comfort. U. S. Navy Commander Mark Marino, the Director of Nursing aboard the Comfort, said "The ship's capacity is about 1,000 beds. Between 400 and 600 of these are for low acuity patients that don't need much care; another 400 are for more severely injured patients who have had to undergo surgery or have special needs, like a continuous IV or special dressing changes. Normally," he said, "there are 60 intensive care beds," but he has expanded that capacity to 80 beds, anticipating more severe injuries. "There is a 50 bed emergency room onboard for first aid and immediate care, as well as 8-11 operating rooms. For now," he said, "our focus is relieving the backlog of patients in country and getting them aboard the Comfort."
You may have read in the news that the Comfort arrived two days ago off the shores of Haiti and has been treating people as a hospital ship.
Why is this Navy ship called "The Comfort"? It's very comforting to know you have help in time of need, isn't it?
This past week all of us should have received our copy of the three-page member letter from the Council of Elders. Here's a quote from it that sets the stage for today's split sermon. I'm just quoting a paragraph from the letter.
Every week we receive prayer requests for those who are sick and those who struggle with other trials of life. As we approach the end of this age, it seems that these personal trials and struggles are increasing in intensity. God is very much aware of each one of us and the difficulties and trials that we face. Again, the apostle Paul clearly explains this in II Corinthians 1, verses 3-4.
Then the letter quotes those passages, those verses:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
The letter continues:
We need to pray for each other daily, for encouragement, comfort, blessing, and healing. God is the ultimate comforter, but He expects all of us to grow in love and concern for each other.
And that's the end of the quote from the letter.
What does this passage in II Corinthians, chapter 1, really mean? Do we fully understand it? Can we enlarge upon this passage that was written to us or quoted by the Council of Elders? Have you ever known people who, despite tragedy, were able to offer comfort to others? Have you been at a funeral and been encouraged yourself by someone who provided comfort to the grieving? Often it's the one needing the comfort the most that offers you the comfort. Have you ever noticed that?
On the other hand, some people are devastated by personal hardships. They find no peace, no consolation, no comfort; and they're in no position to help anyone else. What's the difference? Where do those who are able to comfort others while enduring their own tragedy receive the strength to help others?
The apostle Paul was one individual who had learned the answer, and he passed it along to us in his second letter to the Corinthians. So in the split sermon today, we're going to take a close look at II Corinthians, chapter 1. What can we learn from what the apostle Paul wrote? What does it mean for us today? I've titled this message, Comfort and Consolation.
What type of comfort is Paul talking about? First, let's read the passage. Let's all turn together to II Corinthians, chapter 1, and we'll read the first eleven verses. This will set the stage as we get into the sermon, so let's just read these eleven verses and skim over them, and then we'll go back in more detail and analyze them.
II Cor. 1:1-2 — Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verses 3-5 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
Verse 6 — Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
Verse 7 — And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
I'll leave it there for now at verse 7, maybe. Is Paul talking about medical aid? Is he talking about Toys for Tots? Is it a medical ship on the horizon, or is there more to it? Let's break down this passage into five main sections and examine what this comfort and consolation entails, and what is required, actually, of you and me.
1. First of all—and this is an obvious point—and that is, our Father is the God of all comfort.
Many seek comfort from all the wrong places. Some think the situation will improve, given enough time. Some believe their suffering can't be helped. Some try to drown their sorrows and forget. Some seek alluring distractions. Some complain and whine, and some believe their problems are no worse than the sufferings of other people.
But we must recognize from where true spiritual comfort comes. Paul starts by setting what was to follow in context, and he begins with God. He praises Him, and he says there, in verse 3, II Cor. 1:3, go back to verse 3 here now:
II Cor. 1:3 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort...
This is a grand description of God. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. The context that Paul is giving here is that all mercy and all comfort originate from God. These are things that God extends to His people, and these are the things for which Paul praises God. Mercy comes from God; and with that mercy, there is comfort for us.
What does it mean to be the "father" of mercies? The term "father" implies the source, that He is the source of all kinds of goodness and mercy. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. As the God of all comfort, there is no limitation to the comfort He can provide. He's the Father of it, the source of it, the originator of it.
I went to the Random House Dictionary and looked up "comfort," and here are some of the definitions given for "comfort": (1) To soothe, console, or reassure; to bring cheer to; (2) to make physically comfortable; (3) relief in affliction; consolation; solace; a feeling of relief or consolation. (4) A personal thing that gives consolation. "He provided comfort," or "He was a comfort." (5) A cause or matter of relief or satisfaction.
But here is an important addition to this first point. This comfort comes from our Father and is delivered through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Keep your thumb in II Corinthians, chapter 1, there, but turn back to John, chapter 14, verse 26. It's a passage we normally read around Passover time. John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
American King James Version×, Christ promised His disciples that after He was gone, they would receive strength and power and comfort.
John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
American King James Version×— But the Helper, or as the King James version says, "the Comforter," the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, It will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
You recall that when we're ill, we're instructed to ask the elders of the church to pray for us, anointing us with oil in the name of God or in the name of the Lord. We are then told that the prayer of faith shall save the sick. The oil used for the anointing is symbolic of the healing power of God's Holy Spirit and the comfort that that provides.So Paul begins his discourse here in II Corinthians, chapter 1, by laying the important foundation, the groundwork, that our Father in heaven is the God of all comfort. So that's where we begin.It leads us to a second item that we can glean from this passage, and that is:
2. We must comfort others through Christ.
God seeks to comfort His people whenever and wherever they are hurting, but this comfort that God gives to us is not an end in itself. It is not only ours to keep. Look at verse 4, now, in II Corinthians, chapter 1.
II Cor. 1:4 — ...the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
It is bestowed to us in all our tribulation, in all of our afflictions, and God comforts us at the time when we most need it. God does not desert us in time of need. He will never leave nor forsake us, especially in our tribulation. He will not allow us to be tested beyond our limits, even in the greatest of trials. Even when we fear of death, He is there to comfort us. It reminds me of Psalm, chapter 23, verse 4. Remember Psalm 23, verse 4?
Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
American King James Version×— Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
So even when you're fearing for your life, knowing that God is there will comfort you. And in II Corinthians, the emphasis falls upon us comforting others based upon God comforting us. We are the benefactors of God's comfort. We receive comfort from Him, and we are to give that same comfort to others when they're suffering, in their affliction. Something that is interesting about this statement is that it's a parallel to other types of parallels we read in the scriptures. It's parallel, for example, to God's love and forgiveness. In Ephesians 4:32 Ephesians 4:32And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
American King James Version×, Paul tells his readers to forgive one another as God has forgiven you. John tells us in his first epistle that if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. And this parallel helps us to better understand what Paul is telling the Corinthians here. And so, God comforts us as we comfort others. He expects us to respond to what He is giving to us by giving to those around us. And as He comforts us in our tribulation, we are to comfort others in their afflictions, just as God comforted us. But there's more. Let's move on to verse 5.
II Cor. 1:5 — For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
This is how to, shall we say, accept that the greater the affliction, the greater the comfort. The greater the suffering, the greater the consolation. As the sufferings abound, so does the comfort abound. And in addition, we must comfort others; but to truly give Godly comfort, we must be living our life in the way of Christ. It abounds through and from the Father and Christ living in us. That's why Paul wrote as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, the consolation abounds, through Christ. You see, you have to be living a certain way of life to appreciate this. And just as with other spiritual blessings, true comfort comes from God and we must be converted, filled with the Holy Spirit, having accepted Jesus Christ as our savior and living as God would have us live. You see, it abounds in the knowledge and understanding of God's way of life and truth and salvation. This isn't something that you just automatically get.
How to live in this manner is outlined in the scriptures, and we receive understanding and teaching every week at Sabbath services and in our daily lives as we study the scriptures, the word of God.
Let's turn to Romans 15 for a moment and read verses 4 and 6 and notice the comfort that comes from having Christ living in us.
Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version×— For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. So these things were written for us to give us comfort and hope.
Verse 5 — Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus...see, this patience and comfort that we read about in the scriptures comes to those who are like-minded and living a certain way of life in Christ Jesus.
Verse 6 — ...that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, living this way of life is connected to receiving this kind of comfort.
Philippians, chapter 2, is another example. Philippians, chapter 2, verses 1-2.
Philippians 2:1-2 Philippians 2:1-2  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
 Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
American King James Version×— Therefore, Paul wrote to the Philippians, if there is any consolation in Christ...once again, this is to those who are following a certain way of life, as Christ lived...if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, which is what gives us that comfort and the power, if any affection and mercy from the God of all mercies, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Paul is explaining how God's comfort works. Often the sufferings of Christ are those things that are done to us as we are obedient to Christ. As Christ suffered here on this earth in obeying the Father, so we, too, may suffer for our obedience. This suffering is not just from people but from the world and Satan at large. Yet, as these things happen to us, we are promised that we will also be comforted through Christ.
The amazing thing is that suffering in abundance is promised, yet comfort in abundance is promised. The divine comfort that we receive through Christ will more than match whatever sufferings we undergo at the hands of the world; and though there is an abundance of suffering, there will be an abundance of comfort through Christ for us.
Notice Acts, chapter 9, verse 31. Take a look at this for a moment.
Acts 9:31 Acts 9:31Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
American King James Version×— Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord...you see, this is a group of people that are in Christ, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
So the comfort comes from God. It's through the power of His Holy Spirit, and it's for those who are walking in the fear of Christ. If we are walking in the fear of the Lord, in Christ, the God of comfort will comfort us with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
One final reminder here in II Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 4: why does God comfort us? It's so that we can learn to comfort others. It's expected. It's our responsibility. The comfort God provides through Christ is not just for our own consumption. Our comfort is designed to be shared. Think about it. We are sons and daughters in God's family. We are learning to be like our Father. It's an attribute, then, that we must show, that we must have, and that we must carry with us and provide comfort to others. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us COMFORTERS. That's very important.
I Thessalonians, chapter 5, a final passage here in this second point, I Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 11.
I Thess. 5:11 — Paul writes, Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
You know, they were doing it. He's reminding them. Chapter 5, verse 14:
Verse 14 — Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
And so, our second point that we can glean here from II Corinthians, chapter 1, is that we must comfort others; and it's through Christ.
3. If we are afflicted or comforted, it is for our salvation.
When you think about God's comfort, what do you think of? Do you think of it as being the removal of something that makes you uncomfortable? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling that you get? Or is it something more substantial, working toward a greater purpose? It's for our very salvation that God allows us to suffer but gives us comfort.
Coming back to II Corinthians, chapter 1, now verse 6:
II Cor. 1:6 — Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, says Paul, it is for your consolation and salvation.
Obedience to God leads to being afflicted, yet this brings comfort and salvation. Paul went through much hardship to bring the truth of the Kingdom of God to the Corinthian brethren. And he writes about that later on in this chapter and other places. Without Paul going through this and enduring, the Corinthians would not have the gospel proclaimed to them. So they witnessed the affliction and the sufferings of Paul, yet now have the comfort of learning about the salvation God is offering to them.
Psalm 119, verse 50. I'll read it to you.
What Paul is talking about is eternal life—salvation, comfort in affliction leading to life, true life. So here in II Corinthians 1, verse 6, we see a deeper meaning come out of "comfort." It's not that God takes away our afflictions to comfort us. Comfort from God is not a sedative. It's not a drug. It's not a pain killer. It doesn't take away the pain. Instead, it strengthens us so that we can endure the pain. We are comforted in our affliction. You see the middle of that verse? The consolation is effective for enduring the sufferings. God gives us strength when we undergo the affliction. His Holy Spirit gives us power and comfort so that we are capable of effectively enduring, is what Paul was saying. Effectively enduring. And that is His comfort to us. When we endure, we have been strengthened by God and we are comforted. We can withstand suffering because God gives us the ability to do so, and we know ultimately where it is leading us: salvation, eternal life.
Remember when Jesus was apprehensive about His impending crucifixion? Apprehensive—I could have used a stronger word. After praying for God's will to be done and not His own, knowing He's about to die, an angel appeared before Jesus Christ, and God gave Jesus strength and comfort. But, guess what? God didn't take away the suffering that Jesus was going to have to endure but gave Him the strength and power that was needed for Him to endure. And Christ did. And now He is sitting at the right hand of the Father.
This can be true of us. Consider what we are seeing here today in these verses. We are discovering right here strength and encouragement as we look at how God strengthened and encouraged others. It's being passed on to us. Verse 6 shows that when afflicted, we can endure and be consoled. And when we are comforted, we are consoled and have understanding of our very salvation. You see, either way, if you are comforted or if you are afflicted, you can be appreciative of the salvation that lies in store. And the first comfort that we have received from Jesus Christ is salvation itself.
In II Corinthians 1, verse 7, Paul says to the Corinthians: And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
Paul concludes that His hope is firmly grounded, steadfast, he says. He knows that the Corinthians will be sharers in his comfort as they share in his suffering. Both cases. In other words, as they are obedient to Christ, like Paul, they will also share in the comfort that God gives.
So, to summarize this third point, if we are afflicted or if we are comforted, either way, if Christ is living in us and we are steadfast, it all leads toward salvation.
4. The next section that I outlined is: Share our struggles with one another.
In the verses that follow here, Paul gives an example of what he is talking about. He reveals to the Corinthians that a great amount of suffering and affliction occurred while he was traveling in Asia Minor. He says that they were burdened excessively, even to the point of despairing of life. Paul thought this was it. It was all over with. His life would end. What could it have been? This was way beyond any strength that Paul had within himself. There was nothing that he could do; yet he concludes that this was so that he would rely on God and God only and not himself. His source of true comfort was only God. It was that bad. His strength could only come from the Father of all comfort.
Notice verses 8-10 of II Corinthians 1:
II Cor. 1:8 — For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
Verse 9 — Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves...
There is some speculation that the "sentence of death" was in the arena. In I Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul talks about being with beasts; and it could have been in the arena. He thought it was all over with. The Romans were using him as sport.
Continuing verse 9 — Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead...he thought it was all over with. He says, "This is going to require the resurrection."
Continuing verses 9-10 — ...God...who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us...
You see, knowing the kinds of struggles the Corinthians were going through, he relays this to them to encourage them. "God will strengthen you," he says. And Paul knows this comfort, not only because he has received it but, more importantly, he says, because God can even raise the dead if necessary.
We need to share our struggles with one another. When we do this, we have comfort that we give others, with the comfort that we have received. We must be ready to receive some comfort from others and encouragement, which will help us work through our trials together as a church, as brothers and sisters.
Colossians 4:8 Colossians 4:8 Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
American King James Version×is an interesting passage about sharing our struggles with one another. We're reading a lot of Paul's epistles today. Paul says:
Colossians 4:8 Colossians 4:8 Whom I have sent to you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;
American King James Version×— I am sending him (this was Tychicus that he was sending to them) to you for this very purpose—here's the reason I'm sending him—that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts...
How can someone know your circumstances unless you share them? How can someone offer you comfort unless you share your heart? And so, in a Godly way, we share our struggles with one another. And ultimately, as we offer comfort, we point each other, as Paul did, to the Father of mercy, the God of all comfort. As we comfort one another, as we share our struggles with each other, we remind each other where that comfort comes from that we need. And it comes, ultimately, from the God of all comfort.
5. And then, fifthly, pray for comfort.
Comfort from God can come in various ways. It may come directly from God through His word, as we read the scriptures, like we read in Romans 15:4 Romans 15:4For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
American King James Version×. It can come indirectly from God, through the exhortations of others, as we read in I Thessalonians. Comfort one another with these words, Paul said. And it may come through prayer.
We must feed upon the word of God, pray fervently, and develop a network of relationships with others through which God might comfort us when needed. When all avenues are utilized, then true comfort is possible and we can, then, share it, as we are being told to do.
Look at verse 11:
II Cor. 1:11 — ...you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
Pray for comfort. Pray for others, for their comfort. Not only for ourselves, as we seek God's comfort, but for others that need His comfort. We must pray that fellow church members will comfort those around them when they're suffering. We mustn't forget that this comfort is not ours to keep. We have to pay it back. We receive many prayer requests over the weeks and months of those who are suffering. Some today. Those in our congregation that are concerned for their health, the health of their babies, and so, we pray that these people will be comforted, that the Holy Spirit will give them strength and encouragement, as they deal with their afflictions and their trials.
I know that last June when I was in the hospital for eight days, knowing that people were praying, receiving the cards and letters, was very comforting. And at one point, in the middle of the week, I thought it was about all over with when they said I had heart failure; but knowing people were praying, I said, "OK. It's all right. I don't have to worry. Terri, don't forget where the life insurance papers are, and I guess I'm OK. Whatever happens will happen." People were praying for me and I was comforted by it. We must pray, not only for ourselves, but for each other; and we can also pray that God will help us to put into words how He has comforted us so that we can give Godly comfort to others. As we do these things, the church will be strengthened, for you will all be comforting and encouraging and strengthening one another. So this is how the church is to work, Paul is saying here in II Corinthians, chapter 1. It takes all of us together to do this.
So, to go back to our beginning, the most important point, Paul began with these words in verse 3:
II Cor. 1:3 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort...
I'm going to pause now just for a moment with a warning. Make sure you stay connected to the God of all comfort. Let's look briefly at what can happen if we become disconnected from the God of all comfort. And it's in Lamentations, chapter 1. These are the lamentations of Jeremiah when Jerusalem had fallen. Notice a few verses here in Lamentations, chapter 1, beginning in verse 1. Lamentations is right after the book of Jeremiah. And just listen to this literally tear-jerking story:
Lamentations 1:1-2 Lamentations 1:1-2  How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!
 She weeps sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she has none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.
American King James Version×— How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she, who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces has become a slave! She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her. There is no one now to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies.
Verse 3 — Judah has gone into captivity, under affliction and hard servitude; she dwells among the nations, she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.
Why did this happen? Why was there no one there to comfort her?
Verses 8-9 — Jerusalem has sinned gravely, therefore she has become vile. All who honored her despise her because they have seen her nakedness; yes, she sighs and turns away. Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome; she had no comforter. And then, there's a quote: "O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy is exalted!"
Verse 15 — "The Lord has trampled underfoot all my mighty men in my midst; He has called an assembly against me to crush my young men; the Lord trampled as in a winepress the virgin daughter of Judah."
Verse 16 — "For these things I weep; my eye, my eye overflows with water; because the comforter, who should restore my life, is far from me. My children are desolate because the enemy prevailed."
Jeremiah is saying here, "Do not let the enemy prevail. Comfort and console one another with the comfort that comes from the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit in each of us. Don't quench that Spirit. Don't allow sin and uncleanness to separate you from the Comforter, as happened with Judah." It's a good reminder, a warning, from the author of Lamentations, Jeremiah.
So as we wrap things up here, now, what is true comfort? I did an Internet search with this question and here are the results I found. Is it a True Comfort electronic programmable thermostat for your home? It is that there is nothing that provides true comfort like companionship? Is it a weekly meal plan of comfort food? Yes? Is it the Loads of Comfort flipflop brand? Is it a nourishing nutrition plan titled "True Comfort"? Is it True Comfort blown-in fiberglass insulation? Is it True Comfort thermal siding? Or is it a True Comfort gel series office stool? Well, apparently, advertisers would like you to think so.
While there is nothing wrong with these comforting products, no, true spiritual comfort and consolation comes from the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This comfort that He gives is not the removal of the suffering, necessarily, not always. It is the strength needed to endure it. We must look to Christ to realize this comfort. We must turn to God in our suffering if we are to have the strength to endure. Yet this strength is not for us alone. This comfort and strength is given that it might be shared with others in their affliction. We must comfort them. We cannot keep it to ourselves. So, how did the apostle Paul end this second letter to the Corinthians? Let's turn to II Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 11. Let's read this together, slowly, and think about it. This is how Paul put the bookend around this letter, beginning in chapter 1 with comfort, and now, look at verse 11 of the last chapter:
II Cor. 13:11 — Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Very comforting, indeed.