One of the hidden treasures of amazing words in Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth is the word COMFORT. In Greek, this word, παράκλησις, paraklésis, is a combination of two words: PARA, “alongside,” and KLESIS, “to be called.” Those who are “called alongside” come alongside someone suffering, someone needing encouragement, someone seeking counsel or consolation. .
The Greek verb PARAKLESIS is usually translated into English as “comfort, encouragement, consolation, or counsel.” The noun form of this same word is PARACLETE, the term Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit, our “Counselor, Advocate, Friend, Comforter.”
In 2 Corinthians 1, we find a treasure trove of this word, used in various forms 10 times in just 7 verses, more in that opening single paragraph in this chapter than anywhere else in the New Testament. Here are those ten hidden jewels to bring us comfort from 2 Corinthians 1.
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 affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer
and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
Paul’s teaching flows like a beautiful mountain stream, cascading down from the heights of God’s presence, into our hearts, and out of our lives into those around us. This flow of God’s presence is a flow of comfort.
God is our Comforter, the One who comes alongside us to console our hurting and suffering hearts with God’s great love, for God is the “Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”
In our hurting, suffering world where so many people live with grief, fear, brokenness, and deep pain, Paul’s words in the opening of 2 Corinthians are much needed today.
God is love. God is merciful. God loves to comfort us when we are in pain, when we suffer.
God comes alongside the broken-hearted to heal, to console, to comfort.
Jesus walks alongside us, put his arms around our bowed shoulders, and offers friendship, companionship along the way of suffering, for he personally knows suffering. His hands are marked with scars from nails, from deep wounds where his blood poured out for the forgiveness of all our sins.
We believe in a God of all comfort.
God invites us to come alongside. God calls us alongside others who suffer.
As we step into people’s lives who are suffering, they do not need our words so much as they are longing for our comforting presence to simply be with them in their pain. There is no need to try to fix another person. Love is being present with someone in their pain, quietly, sharing their affliction, bearing their burden by actively listening, by empathizing, by offering the comfort we’ve received from Christ who has come alongside our lives.