“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8–11

How have you been comforted? How have you gained comfort in tough times?

I think back through the times I received comfort and I am thankful those who took the time to reach out to me, whether I asked for it or not. The stumbles and falls of childhood brought a caring parent’s comforting embrace. The seasons of surgery and recovery provide all sorts of little ways for others to take a moment of their lives and act to meet a need. The periods of financial pressures amid dwindling resources that were reduced or relieved by the compassion and sacrifice of others will always be fresh fuel for thanksgiving.

It is also a healthy exercise to remember when God has prompted and used you to provide comfort. It may have been your hands and strong embrace which soothed your child’s discomfort in sickness. It may have been your prayer list that was answered with God’s blessing poured out on others. It may have been your testimony of saving grace that brought a lost sinner to repentance in the fire of conviction and the depths of his deepest despair. From a smile, to a card, to a call, to cash, to a visit, to an encouraging word, to lending a hand, you have a deep, well-stocked tool box for acts of compassion available to you.

Comfort is transferring resourceful strength from someone who has to someone who needs. Watching our Lord minister to His disciples provides a series of lessons on the giving and receiving of comfort. Selfless sacrifice meets humbling need in every story. Wisdom, experience, perspective, inner strength, devotion, presence, empowering, provision, authentic compassion, and real service were His gifts to His disciples.

It was a pivotal moment when our Lord introduced to His disciples, on the night before His crucifixion, the fact that as He was about to leave them the Father would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. John 14:26 reads, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said.” In 16:7–15 He also says, “…It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come He will convict the world of sin, and righteousness, and of judgment…When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…He will take of mine and declare it to you.”

It would be through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that “Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy…Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you (John16:19ff).” They will be comforted by His resurrection and by His Spirit He will send to them. That same comfort is ours, we will see our resurrected Savior one day just as we have received His Spirit when we believed. The Comforter has come and He is at work convicting, sealing, indwelling, illumining, empowering you – and all the believers around you!

This is the dynamic work of the Spirit that is the subject of Paul’s prayer in 2 Corinthians 1:3–1: “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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ…” Essentially, His prayer is not saying we are to comfort, for “comfort’s sake.” Rather, we minister comfort so that others may give thanks to God above!

Our 1 Thessalonians passage brings this message home. Believers are not of the darkness, stumbling, distressed, benighted, and shortened in sight. We are of the day, clear-eyed, warmed, purposeful, and revived in the Light! Our lives, bodies, and hearts are at the disposal of the Holy Spirit in order to minister encouragement and to build up the saints around us with the encouragement and building up that we have received from God through the hand of others.

Every day grab the “tools of your trade” found in John 8. Be healthy in mind with sober thinking (2 Timothy 1:7). Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of the hope of salvation. Until God calls the believer home, he is at war. Be soul-prepared every day and assist saints around you to put on their “warrior helmet” because “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

The Owner of your tools, and even the tool box itself, is the Lord Jesus Christ. You are simply the steward of His tools. See every card, smile, kindness, word, and sacrifice for others as an instrument of faith, love, and hope to encourage and build up someone else. Trust and obey.