"Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:2-5
Do you ever get discouraged? Don't answer that, because I already know the answer. Of course you do, you're human. Encouragement is something we all need. Thank God it is something He has promised to everyone of us. I'd like you to first see that the word, "encouragement", is not used in the King James Version of the Bible. Instead, you'll see the word "comfort" which is used 10 times in this passage from 2 Corinthians. It is also translated "consolation" and used to describe the Holy Spirit who is called the Comforter (John 14 & 15). I want you to know the sweet encouragement that only our Savior can bring. And once you receive that gift, to pass it on, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you up again and again.
The Source of Encouragement
God has cornered the market on comfort. So if you are discouraged right now, the devil is hot on your trail. There's a story that illustrates this point so well.
One day, the devil was auctioning off his tools. That is, all but one tool. It was such a high price, no one could afford it. When someone asked why, he said, "That's my favorite tool. It's the tool of discouragement. I use it to pry open a life and when I get inside, I can do all kinds of damage with my other tools of hatred, lust, envy, jealousy, and pride."
When the Bible says, "who comforteth us," I want you to notice that the word "comforteth" is in the present tense. This encouragement is ever-present. It flows like a river — never stopping to flow from the loving bosom of God.
The Subject of Encouragement
That's you and me, and everyone who's gone before us or who will come after us. You see, one of the consolations of discouragement, is that we're in good company. We don't have to go around wearing a mask and pretending to be happy when we're not. There have been three times in my life when I was really discouraged. And in all three times I went to the Lord and He met me there. He became the God of all comfort to me.
Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, was often discouraged. In fact, his wife thought the only way to help him was to shock him out of it. She put on a black dress and veil as if she was going to a funeral. When he asked her who had died, she said, "Martin, haven't your heard? God has died." He declared, "That is blasphemy!" His wife said, "Aye Husband, and it is blasphemy for you to be living as if God is dead." Needless to say, Martin snapped out of it!
The Stewardship of Encouragement
God is the One who encourages us so that we may be able to comfort others. This is the purpose of encouragement! We are blessed that we might be a blessing. The word "aboundeth" in 2 Corinthians, verse 5 means that we are to overflow with the life of Jesus Christ. Everywhere we go, we are to be a source of encouragement.
To some people, tribulation is a prison. For others, tribulation is a hospital from which they get well. But friend, tribulation is to be a seminary where we learn to become stewards of the comfort we receive, so that we can pass on our encouragement to others.
Scripture says that the seven miracles that the apostle John highlighted were intended as signs. The message they carried is proof that Jesus was who He said, the Son of God!
And these miracles hold great relevance in our lives today. As Dr. Rogers said, "Their purpose is to deepen our trust in Him, not in the miracles themselves." They serve as signposts pointing to Jesus, showing that He was and is God's answer to your deepest need --- to your disappointments, doubts, disabilities, desires, despair, darkness, and death.
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