“How to Offer Real Comfort”
What brings you real comfort in a place of deep suffering and trial? Does someone telling you, “It will be all right,” “I believe God will bring healing,” “You’re a strong person, I know you will get through this,” or “I’ll pray you get better and that this will all come to an end” bring you real, lasting comfort?
These statements always fall short of offering any real comfort. Though they sometimes carry partial truths—since it’s good and right to pray for healing and better circumstances—they can also reinforce the misleading idea that our greatest problem is our suffering, and the removal of it would be God’s greatest blessing.
If we do not have a correct theology of suffering, we will be shocked, devastated, and angered when adversity strikes us or those we love. What we really believe shapes what we actually say, both to ourselves and to others. If we believe the wrong thing, we will say the wrong thing, and end up resorting to quasi-Christian clichés (which offer false hope) or to never having anything to say at all to those who are hurting (which offers no hope).
Paul teaches us that no matter what circumstances or company we may find ourselves in, our message of hope should confidently remain the same. Trace his logic in these verses. He believes that Christ has risen to eternal life, and so one day he will raise Paul to eternal life. So this is what he speaks of, for the sake of his listeners coming to understand and appreciate grace, and the sake of his God coming to receive the thanksgiving he so richly and infinitely deserves.
If we believe in resurrection hope, we will speak that hope into the lives of others. One of the most crucial times for us to share this truth is when we are walking alongside a brother or sister who is suffering and struggling to see this hope for themselves. And what better person is there to share such hope than one who has been comforted and strengthened by it through their own season of suffering? It is from the overflow of the comfort we find in knowing that Jesus has risen and will raise us too that we are able to comfort others.