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by Wayne Blank
"Experiencing physical well-being or relief; free from stress; having or affording peace of mind."
That is a reasonably good general explanation of comfort, but such conditions can happen as much from bad things, as good things. False comfort, deadly comfort, can come from alcohol or drug abuse, or other self-destructive substances or habits, that all too often result in misery and death after, or even while, they provide their "comfort."
"My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you"
The Word of God also speaks of comfort, but of a kind that is based upon truth; a comfort that enhances physical life while the process toward eternal life is happening. The Comforter of God's people is the Holy Spirit of God.
The Greek word, pronounced par-ak-lay-tos, means called to one's side, as an advocate, someone who provides both advice and moral support - the reason that it is variously, and accurately, translated as either "Counselor" or "Comforter," as illustrated in these examples of John 14:15-17 as translated by the King James and Revised Standard Versions:
"If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you." (John 14:15-18 RSV)
Notice how, in the verses quoted above, Christ plainly says "If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments," and then the Counselor / Comforter will come. The coming of the Holy Spirit of God is conditional upon obedience to God. The Messiah repeats that point for emphasis, "If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him":
"If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:23-27 RSV)
Notice also in the verses quoted above how Christ's definition of "comfort" is based upon truth and life, unlike the worldly idea: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
True comfort is based upon truth, a comfort that gives life, not destroys it.
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 RSV)
Fact Finder: What did the apostle Paul mean, in the verses quoted above, "establish them in every good work"?