“Pastor, the results came out positive. My wife has breast cancer.” When a congregation member broke this news to me one Sunday morning, I was speechless. What could I possibly say to comfort my friend in light of this bitter news? After a moment of silence, I quickly remembered the words that most comforted me when my own wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. And so with a level voice, I replied, “I want you to know that I’m here for both of you, no matter what.” He wore the same expression of gratitude that I had worn years before when a friend encouraged me with those identical words.

What a blessing it is to read in 2 Corinthians 1:3 that “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” Most of us know this is true and have experienced this comfort firsthand. But that’s not the end of the story. What we often overlook is that after we receive the comfort of God, we are to pass that same comfort on to others who are suffering: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others” (2 Corinthians 1:4). The comfort of God isn’t the end of the process. We’re blessed by God so that we might be a blessing to others.

I have to admit that I often view the comfort of God selfishly—as a special gift that God grants to me so that I alone might be strengthened in the midst of hardship. But when I do this, I’m limiting the full power of God’s consolation. The comfort of God is so abundant and powerful that not only does it encourage me in my own time of need, but it also equips me to become a comforter to others. By God’s love and power, may we be comforters today.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Matthew 12:22-50