The Gift of God’s Comfort

Written by: Megan Ryan
Featured image for “The Gift of God’s Comfort”

The Christmas season is now in full swing—and for believers all across the globe, this holiday means much more than gifts and greeting cards and family gatherings and baked goods. For Christians, Christmas is a time to reflect on the beautiful truth of the birth of our Savior, Jesus—and all that this reality entails.

The spiritual aspects of Christmas even seep into popular culture in the music at shopping malls and themes of children’s plays. Many of the songs, films, traditions, commercials, and messaging this time of year take their happy, joyful cue from our celebration of Messiah Jesus coming as a baby.

Unfortunately, the holiday season isn’t always the happiest time of the year for everyone—including those of us following that Messiah. Life doesn’t stand still for the holidays; in fact, it only ramps up.

And sometimes, this time of year only serves to highlight the tougher parts of life: A spouse is laid off. A friend passes away. A relationship ends. Loneliness is accentuated. You are reminded of a loved one who passed away long ago. Or the unhealthy family system you worked so hard to escape is reenacted.

In a season where the pressure to be joyful is heightened, the juxtaposition of these sad experiences with the surrounding mirth can make the hardships sting even harder.

Even amongst the twinkling red and green lights and Hallmark movies on television, life can feel really hard.

As Christians, what are we to make of these realities? We celebrate the coming of the presence of God through Jesus Christ at Christmastime, and so it can feel confusing to wonder where Jesus is in the midst of all this heartache.

Are we supposed to push our feelings aside and put on a happy face for the sake of the season?

Looking to Scripture can remind us that part of why Jesus came as Immanuel (God with us) was to bring us comfort in our times of hurting and pain.

Jesus’ Comfort in Scripture

Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31 CSB), and as it is with sickness, so it is with sorrow. It is not those who are already happy, fulfilled, and inspired who need comfort; it is those who are hurting, lonely, and lost.

God came to earth—embodied as an infant—in large part to give us the gift of his comfort. Jesus entered into human form to empathize with us—to know us, to love us, serve us—and comfort us with his presence.

In fact, in one of his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul writes,

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 NLT

With this in mind, we might ask: What does God’s comfort look like for us this Christmas season? When our hearts or bodies are broken, when we feel alone, when we are lost or uncertain, what does the gift of God’s comfort truly do for us?

Comfort through the Companionship of the Holy Spirit

Christmas celebrates the powerful reality of Christ coming to earth—but what about the rest of the story? Scripture tells us that after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Luke 24:51).

The disciples, who had grown to rely on the comfort of Jesus’ physical presence amongst them, were understandably confused and upset when their Lord told them that he would be leaving them (see John 14:5).

However, Jesus also promised them—and us, too!—that he will not leave his people alone:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.

John 14:16–17 CSB

The word translated as Counselor can also be translated as Helper, Advocate, and Comforter. Thus, with Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit comes God’s gift of comfort: we are never truly alone. We have the companionship of the Holy Spirit with us through every season of life—both the joyful and the joyless.

Comfort through the Fellowship of Others

In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes extensively of the comfort of God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

2 Corinthians 1:3–5 CSB

Here, Paul reminds us not only that we have comfort through the compassion of God, but that we also have the opportunity to comfort others as a result of receiving God’s comfort.

Of course, this truth also applies when we are the ones needing comfort: we have the comfort of other believers extended to us. What a beautiful hope we have in the fellowship of the body of Christ, to have others walk with us in our joys and our sorrows!

Comfort through the Hope of Future Joy

Throughout Scripture, God speaks of the future comfort for Israel, and ultimately all people, that will come through Jesus the Messiah.

God says through Isaiah that he will comfort his people “as a mother comforts her child” (Isaiah 66:13 NLT). God, speaking through Jeremiah, tells us of the future rejoicing that will occur for Israel as a result of God’s powerful love:

The young women will dance for joy,
and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

Jeremiah 31:13 NLT

While these promises were originally given to Israel thousands of years ago, the hope of God’s comfort is still applicable to us today. As we have been adopted into God’s family through the work of Jesus on the cross (see Ephesians 1:4–14), we also can look forward to the future “restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21 CSB).

We are also told through John that in Jesus

… God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

Revelation 21:3–4 CSB

In this promise of future comfort, we can freely acknowledge the pain, suffering, and brokenness in this world—even at Christmastime—while also taking comfort in knowing that this is not the end of the story.

We still have the future hope of the comfort of God’s eternal presence awaiting us in the new heavens and new earth—when sorrow and mourning will cease forever.

When we offer our pain, anxiety, and struggles to God in the coming weeks, expectant of his wonderful gift of comfort this Christmas, we just might find that Jesus can handle our current sorrow and can even lead us into future joy.

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