Throughout the scriptures whenever a word is used three times, it usually means, “Stop, Reader, and pay attention!” But I have found a passage where a word is used not three times, or six times, but TEN times throughout five verses of scripture. This causes me to screech to a halt and pay attention to what God is trying to tell me.
Please read and look for the word comfort.
“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.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
The Greek word used for affliction is thlipsis which means a pressure; anything that burdens the spirit. The word used for comfort is parakaleo meaning to call near, or along side.
Whenever we are afflicted, or burdened in our spirits about anything, then the God of all mercies draws along side of us and comforts us. But there is more! Our afflictions are not in vain! For we go through afflictions so God can comfort us, and in return we can then go comfort someone else in their afflictions.
The people of 2 Corinthians were beginning to feel the heat of persecution and to turn against Paul. Paul is telling them, “Look, we (Paul, Timothy, and maybe Luke) have been afflicted so we can comfort you. Now take the comfort God is giving you and go comfort someone else!”
A great example of this would be my going through the tragedy of miscarriage and infertility. I questioned and questioned God throughout my afflictions. But now, whenever I come in contact with a woman going through these same afflictions I can immediately place myself in her situation and I can come along side her and comfort her.
And that is the beauty of the mystery of God. We question. We cry. We ask, “Why me?” Why not me? What makes me any different from anyone else? But it is through the patient endurance of the stretching and spiritual pain when we call for God to come near to us; and in His comfort and peace He says, “My child, I’ve been next to you this entire time of affliction. Now go tell someone else how I comforted you.”