We are living in a time of widespread illness, grief, and loss. Discouragement and exhaustion are rampant. Thankfully, when afflictions abound, the comforts of Christ abound as well. Here are seven ways Christ comforts us.
Christ comforts us by his presence. He says in Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. We are not alone in our afflictions, “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”
Christ comforts us by his love. He says in John 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 an understanding love, a forgiving love, a steadfast love. When we are damaged in body or downcast in spirit, we can find comfort in the abiding love of Christ.
Christ comforts us by his strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” The power of Christ helps us to bear all things, endure all things, and handle all things. It’s comforting to know that we don’t have to rely on our own frail strength, but we can lean on the inexhaustible power of the Savior.
Christ comforts us by his word. Psalm 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me.” When troubles multiply, 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.”
Christ comforts us by his cross. Hebrews 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. Christ practices compassionate solidarity with all who suffer.
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 power from death. Anxiety, illness, and grief gain vitality from death. Death is the ultimate enemy. Yet Christ, who stands with us, stands victorious over the grave, bringing us comfort even in the face of peril.
Christ comforts us by his body—the church. In 2 Corinthians 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 fellow Christians can convey God’s comfort to those 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!” Sometimes we all need comfort from somebody with skin on, which is why we comfort one another as the body of Christ.
In conclusion, although the hardships of life are formidable, the comforts of Christ overflow. Therefore, we can say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 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
Second Baptist Church, Richmond, VA