Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The believer’s only comfort is his sure conviction that with body and soul, in life and in death, he is not his own but belongs to his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ (L.D. I). The believer needs this comfort, no matter what his age or circumstances, because outside of Christ there is exposure to the wrath of God, fear, misery, and death. We need this sense of “belonging”; how wonderful that God provides it to us with an abiding comfort that can never be taken from us and that will prove sufficient no matter what the trial!
The original term in its verbal forms means to call to the side of, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to intercede, to act as an advocate. The cognate nouns refer to one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a counsel for the defense, an advocate.
Ultimately, all comfort is of God. He is the God of all comfort (II Cor. 1:3), the God of patience and consolation (Rom. 15:5). God provides His church with comfort through Jesus Christ who, when He was about to leave the earth, assured the church that He will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18), but would give another Comforter. That He speaks of another Comforter implies that He Himself is a Comforter (Matt. 9:22). Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus called His people to His side, and even now He is our Advocate in the presence of God. The Holy Ghost is the other Comforter that Jesus gives to us. He leads the church into all the truth as the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26), always testifying of Jesus, and bringing to our remembrance whatsoever Jesus has said unto us (John 14:26). The idea is that we have two Comforters. Jesus Christ the righteous is our Advocate with God in heaven (I John 2:1), and the Holy Spirit is our Advocate who testifies with our spirits, our consciences, that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). Marvelous provision God has made for our much needed comfort!
Always the comfort of the Spirit is ours through the preaching of the gospel. It is God’s rod and staff that comfort us (Ps. 23:4). Isaiah is told to comfort God’s people by speaking comfortably to Jerusalem, that is, to her heart (Isaiah 40:1, 2). It is through the comfort of the Scriptures that we have hope (Rom. 15:4). As the church continued in the doctrine of the apostles she was edified: “and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). The Holy Ghost leads the church into a deep understanding of the gospel and comforts through the gospel.
True comfort is a matter of the heart (Eph. 6:22) and is ours by a true faith (Matt. 9:22). For those who are joined heart to heart with Christ there is comfort in tribulation (II Cor. 1:40), comfort for those who are cast down (II Cor. 7:6), for those in affliction (Ps. 119:15), for those who walk the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4), for those who mourn (Is. 61:2). “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
So God is the God of all comfort. Christ is our Comforter, having accomplished our warfare and pardoned our iniquity; the Holy Ghost comforts our heart; the gospel is the gospel of comfort; and the saints are called to comfort one another! How sad if there is none to comfort us, but many are glad when they hear of our troubles (Lam. 1:21). What miserable comforters are they who speak vain words to us, but not the Word of God (Job 16:2). But we must be careful also, in the midst of our afflictions, that we do not refuse to be comforted as Jacob did (Gen. 37:35), and conclude that all things are against us (Gen. 42:36). That this is a very real temptation for us is shown by the words of Asaph in Psalm 77:1-3, where we read of his troubles, troubles which were increased when he remembered God, and his soul refused to be comforted!
We may safely believe that the God who has called us according to His purpose will work all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). We may live in the comfort that whether we wake or sleep (are living or dead when Christ returns) we shall live together with Christ who died for us (I Thess. 5:10, 11). And we are always to be comforting one another with the Word of the gospel that we never need sorrow as others who have no hope (I Thess. 4:13), for we have the victory in Jesus who died and rose again!