Look to Jehovah for Comfort
“May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”—ROMANS 15:5.
1. Why does each day bring a greater need for comfort?
EACH passing day brings with it an increasing need for comfort. As a Bible writer observed over 1,900 years ago, “all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.” (Romans 8:22) In our time “groaning” and “pain” have been greater than ever. Since World War I, mankind has suffered one crisis after another in the form of wars, crime, and natural disasters that often are linked to man’s mismanagement of the earth.—Revelation 11:18.
2. (a) Who is most to blame for mankind’s present woes? (b) What fact gives us a basis for comfort?
2 Why has there been so much suffering in our time? Describing the casting of Satan from the heavens following the Kingdom’s birth in 1914, the Bible answers: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) The clear evidence of the fulfillment of that prophecy means that we have almost reached the end of Satan’s wicked rule. How comforting to know that life on earth will soon return to the peaceful state that existed before Satan led our first parents into rebellion!
3. When were humans not in need of comfort?
3 In the beginning, man’s Creator provided a beautiful park as a home for the first human couple. It was situated in an area called Eden, meaning “Delight” or “Pleasure.” (Genesis 2:8, footnote) Furthermore, Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect health, with the prospect of never dying. Just think of the many areas in which they could have developed their abilities—gardening, art, construction, music. Think, too, of all the works of creation they could have studied as they fulfilled their commission to subdue the earth and make it a paradise. (Genesis 1:28) Indeed, the lives of Adam and Eve would have been filled, not with groaning and pain, but with pleasure and delight. Clearly, they would not have been in need of comfort.
4, 5. (a) Why did Adam and Eve fail the test of obedience? (b) How did mankind come to be in need of comfort?
4 What Adam and Eve did need, however, was to cultivate a deep love and appreciation for their kind heavenly Father. Such love would have motivated them to obey God under all circumstances. (Compare John 14:31.) Sadly, both of our original parents failed to obey their rightful Sovereign, Jehovah. Instead, they allowed themselves to come under the wicked rule of a fallen angel, Satan the Devil. It was Satan who tempted Eve to sin and eat of the forbidden fruit. Then Adam sinned when he too ate of the fruit of the tree concerning which God had clearly warned: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Genesis 2:17.
5 In this way, the sinful couple began to die. When passing the death sentence, God also stated to Adam: “Cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. And thorns and thistles it will grow for you, and you must eat the vegetation of the field.” (Genesis 3:17, 18) Thus Adam and Eve lost the prospect of making the uncultivated earth into a paradise. Expelled from Eden, they had to concentrate their energies on wresting food from ground that had been cursed. Their descendants, having inherited this sinful, dying condition, came to be in great need of comfort.—Romans 5:12.
A Comforting Promise Fulfilled
6. (a) What comforting promise did God make after mankind’s fall into sin? (b) What prophecy regarding comfort did Lamech utter?
6 When sentencing the instigator of man’s rebellion, Jehovah proved to be ‘the God who supplies comfort.’ (Romans 15:5) He did so by promising to send a “seed” who would eventually deliver Adam’s offspring from the disastrous effects of Adam’s rebellion. (Genesis 3:15) In time, God also provided foregleams of this deliverance. For example, he inspired Lamech, a distant descendant of Adam through his son Seth, to prophesy about what Lamech’s son would do: “This one will bring us comfort from our work and from the pain of our hands resulting from the ground which Jehovah has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29) In harmony with this promise, the boy was named Noah, which is understood to mean “Rest” or “Consolation.”
7, 8. (a) What situation led Jehovah to feel regrets about having created man, and what did He purpose to do in response? (b) How did Noah live up to the meaning of his name?
7 Meanwhile, Satan was gaining followers among some of the heavenly angels. These materialized as humans and took attractive female descendants of Adam as wives. Such unnatural unions further corrupted human society and produced a godless race of Nephilim, “fellers,” who filled the earth with violence. (Genesis 6:1, 2, 4, 11; Jude 6) “Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth . . . And Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.”—Genesis 6:5, 6.
8 Jehovah purposed to destroy that wicked world through a global flood, but first he had Noah build an ark to preserve life. Thus, the human race and the animal kinds were saved. How relieved Noah and his family must have felt after the Flood as they came out of the ark onto a cleansed earth! How comforting to find that the curse on the ground had been lifted, making agricultural activity so much easier! Indeed, Lamech’s prophecy proved true, and Noah lived up to the meaning of his name. (Genesis 8:21) As a faithful servant of God, Noah was instrumental in bringing a measure of “comfort” to mankind. However, the wicked influence of Satan and his demon angels did not end with the Flood, and mankind continues to groan under the burden of sin, sickness, and death.
Someone Greater Than Noah
9. How has Jesus Christ proved to be a helper and comforter for repentant humans?
9 Eventually, at the end of about 4,000 years of human history, the promised Seed arrived. Moved by great love for mankind, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten Son to earth to die as a ransom for sinful humankind. (John 3:16) Jesus Christ brings great relief to repentant sinners who exercise faith in his sacrificial death. All who dedicate their lives to Jehovah and become baptized disciples of his Son experience lasting refreshment and comfort. (Matthew 11:28-30; 16:24) In spite of their imperfection, they find deep joy in serving God with a clean conscience. How comforting for them to know that if they continue to exercise faith in Jesus, they will be rewarded with everlasting life! (John 3:36; Hebrews 5:9) If because of weakness they commit a serious sin, then they have a helper, or comforter, in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. (1 John 2:1, 2) By confessing such sin and by taking Scriptural steps to avoid being practicers of sin, they gain relief, knowing that ‘God is faithful and righteous so as to forgive their sin.’—1 John 1:9; 3:6; Proverbs 28:13.
10. What do we learn from the miracles Jesus performed when he was on earth?
10 While on earth, Jesus also brought refreshment by freeing the demon-possessed, by healing every sort of sickness, and by raising dead loved ones back to life. True, such miracles were of only temporary benefit, since those thus blessed afterward grew old and died. Nonetheless, Jesus thereby pointed to the permanent future blessings that he will pour out on all mankind. Now a mighty heavenly King, he will soon do far more than merely expel the demons. He will abyss them along with their leader, Satan, in a state of inactivity. Then the glorious Thousand Year Reign of Christ will commence.—Luke 8:30, 31; Revelation 20:1, 2, 6.
11. Why did Jesus call himself “Lord of the sabbath”?
11 Jesus said that he was “Lord of the sabbath,” and many of his cures were performed on the Sabbath day. (Matthew 12:8-13; Luke 13:14-17; John 5:15, 16; 9:14) Why was this? Well, the Sabbath was part of God’s Law to Israel and thus served as “a shadow of the good things to come.” (Hebrews 10:1) The six weekdays of work remind us of man’s past 6,000 years of slavery to Satan’s oppressive rule. The Sabbath day at the end of the week brings to mind the comforting rest mankind will experience during the Thousand Year Reign of the Greater Noah, Jesus Christ.—Compare 2 Peter 3:8.
12. To what comforting experiences can we look forward?
12 What relief earthly subjects of Christ’s rule will feel when, at last, they find themselves totally free from Satan’s wicked influence! Further comfort will come as they experience healing of their physical, emotional, and mental ailments. (Isaiah 65:17) Then, just think of their ecstasy as they start welcoming loved ones back from the dead! In these ways God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 21:4) As the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice are progressively applied, the obedient subjects of God’s Kingdom will grow to perfection, becoming totally free from all the bad effects of Adam’s sin. (Revelation 22:1-5) Then Satan will be released “for a little while.” (Revelation 20:3, 7) All humans who faithfully uphold Jehovah’s rightful sovereignty will be rewarded with everlasting life. Imagine the unspeakable joy and relief of being completely “set free from enslavement to corruption”! Thus obedient mankind will enjoy “the glorious freedom of the children of God.”—Romans 8:21.
13. Why do all true Christians need the comfort that God supplies?
13 Meanwhile, we continue to be subject to the groaning and pain common to all who live amid Satan’s wicked system. The increase of physical sickness and emotional disorders affects all sorts of people, including faithful Christians. (Philippians 2:25-27; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) In addition, as Christians we often suffer the unjust ridicule and persecution that Satan heaps upon us for ‘obeying God as ruler rather than men.’ (Acts 5:29) Thus, if we are to endure in doing God’s will right to the end of Satan’s world, we need the comfort, help, and strength that He supplies.
Where to Find Comfort
14. (a) What promise did Jesus make on the night before his death? (b) What is necessary if we are to benefit fully from the comfort of God’s holy spirit?
14 On the night before his death, Jesus made it clear to his faithful apostles that he would soon be leaving them and returning to his Father. This troubled and grieved them. (John 13:33, 36; 14:27-31) Recognizing their need for continued comfort, Jesus promised: “I will request the Father and he will give you another comforter to be with you forever.” (John 14:16, footnote) Jesus here referred to God’s holy spirit, which was poured out upon his disciples 50 days after his resurrection.* Among other things, God’s spirit comforted them during their trials and strengthened them to continue doing God’s will. (Acts 4:31) However, such help should not be viewed as something automatic. To benefit from it fully, each Christian must continue praying for the comforting help that God provides through his holy spirit.—Luke 11:13.
15. What are some of the ways that Jehovah supplies us with comfort?
15 Another way in which God provides comfort is through his Word, the Bible. Paul wrote: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) This shows the need for us regularly to study and to meditate on the things written in the Bible and Bible-based publications. We also need to be regular in attendance at Christian meetings, where comforting thoughts are shared from God’s Word. One of the main purposes of such gatherings is to encourage one another.—Hebrews 10:25.
16. What should God’s comforting provisions motivate us to do?
16 Paul’s letter to the Romans goes on to show the good results we receive from making use of God’s comforting provisions. “May the God who supplies endurance and comfort,” Paul wrote, “grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5, 6) Yes, by taking full advantage of God’s comforting provisions, we will become more like our courageous Leader, Jesus Christ. This will motivate us to keep using our mouths to glorify God in our witnessing work, at our meetings, in private conversation with fellow believers, and in our prayers.
In Times of Severe Trial
17. How did Jehovah comfort his Son, and with what result?
17 Jesus became “sorely troubled” and “deeply grieved” on the night before his agonizing death. (Matthew 26:37, 38) So he withdrew a little distance from his disciples and prayed to his Father for help. “He was favorably heard for his godly fear.” (Hebrews 5:7) The Bible reports that “an angel from heaven appeared to [Jesus] and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) The courageous and manly way in which Jesus went on to face his opposers is evidence that God’s way of comforting his Son was most effective.—John 18:3-8, 33-38.
18. (a) What period in the apostle Paul’s life was particularly trialsome? (b) How can we be of comfort to hardworking, compassionate elders?
18 The apostle Paul too went through periods of severe trial. For example, his ministry in Ephesus was marked by “tears and trials that befell [him] by the plots of the Jews.” (Acts 20:17-20) Finally, Paul left Ephesus after supporters of the goddess Artemis had got the city in an uproar over his preaching activity. (Acts 19:23-29; 20:1) As Paul headed north to the city of Troas, something else weighed heavily on his mind. Sometime before the uproar in Ephesus, he had received a disturbing report. The young congregation in Corinth was plagued by division, and it was tolerating fornication. So from Ephesus, Paul had written a letter of strong reproof in hopes of correcting the situation. This was not an easy thing for him to do. “Out of much tribulation and anguish of heart I wrote you with many tears,” he later revealed in a second letter. (2 Corinthians 2:4) Like Paul, compassionate elders do not find it easy to give corrective counsel and reproof, in part because they are only too aware of their own weaknesses. (Galatians 6:1) May we, then, be of comfort to those taking the lead among us by readily responding to loving, Bible-based counsel.—Hebrews 13:17.
19. Why did Paul move on from Troas to Macedonia, and how did he eventually gain relief?
19 While in Ephesus, not only did Paul write the brothers in Corinth but he also sent Titus to assist them, commissioning him to report back on their response to the letter. Paul hoped to intercept Titus at Troas. There Paul was blessed with fine opportunities to make disciples. But this failed to relieve his anxiety because Titus had not yet arrived. (2 Corinthians 2:12, 13) So he journeyed on to Macedonia, hoping to meet up with Titus there. Paul’s anxious state was aggravated by intense opposition to his ministry. “When we arrived in Macedonia,” he explains, “our flesh got no relief, but we continued to be afflicted in every manner—there were fights without, fears within. Nevertheless God, who comforts those laid low, comforted us by the presence of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:5, 6) What relief when Titus finally arrived to tell Paul about the positive response of the Corinthians to his letter!
20. (a) As in the case of Paul, what is another important way in which Jehovah supplies comfort? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
20 Paul’s experience is comforting to God’s servants today, many of whom also face trials that cause them to be “laid low,” or “depressed.” (Phillips) Yes, ‘the God who supplies comfort’ knows our individual needs and can use us to be of comfort to one another, just as Paul gained comfort through Titus’ report of the repentant attitude of the Corinthians. (2 Corinthians 7:11-13) In our next article, we will consider Paul’s warm response to the Corinthians and how it can help us to be effective sharers of God’s comfort today.
One of the main operations of God’s spirit upon first-century Christians was to anoint them as adopted spiritual sons of God and brothers of Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) This is reserved for only 144,000 disciples of Christ. (Revelation 14:1, 3) Today the vast majority of Christians have kindly been given the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth. Though not anointed, they too receive the help and comfort of God’s holy spirit.
Can You Answer?
□ How did mankind come to be in need of comfort?
□ How has Jesus proved to be greater than Noah?
□ Why did Jesus call himself “Lord of the sabbath”?
□ How does God supply comfort today?
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Paul experienced great comfort through Titus’ report about the Corinthians