It is hard to overestimate the importance of the word “comfort” in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. It only occurs thirty-one times with this meaning in the New Testament, and ten of those occurrences are found in this paragraph alone.
Men, this word is for you. If you prize strength, then you should prize this word. “Comfort” in contemporary English may sound soft, but “comfort” in Paul’s day meant “to strengthen.” A return to Paul’s meaning would actually take us back to the original meaning of the English word because it comes from the Latin root fortis, meaning to fortify or to strengthen.
Biblical comfort is divine deliverance. Humanity despairs in weakness when we are “utterly burdened beyond strength” (2 Cor. 1:8). Comfort is a “but God” moment of divine intervention (Eph. 2:4). Battered and broken souls find rest in the comforting shelter of His strength. Comfort moves the weak and weary from despair to doxology. Here is the paradigm: desperation (1:8) brings dependence (v.9), which leads to deliverance (v.10) and then culminates in doxology or thanks (v.11).
Comfort is not just something God gives; it is something He is. To comfort is part of His character. He is called the “God of all comfort” (v.3) and the God “who comforts the downcast (2 Cor. 7:6). When God’s children are comforted, they too become comforters (v.4). God can use others to be the face of comfort, but God is still the source of comfort.
Men, cry out to the God of all comfort to come to you in your affliction. When you are comforted, become a comforter. Sometimes God’s comfort rescues the believer out of affliction (1:8-11), while at other times the comfort sustains the believer in the affliction so that they can “patiently endure” it (v.6).
Comfort is not a tranquilizer shot to number the pain of affliction; it is a steroid shot necessary to push past the pain so that we can reach the finish line. Comfort is not the nap after the Thanksgiving turkey; it is the burst of adrenaline after the triple espresso at Starbucks.