4 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.
Verse 4 moves from who God is in verse 3 to what He does.
4 who comforts us in all our tribulation (pressure, distress, hemmed in),
Paul himself faced affliction in ministry (2 Co 11:23-29). The Greek word for “tribulation” occurs nine times in 2 Corinthians (2 Co 1:4, 8; 2:4; 4:17; 6:4; 7:4; 8:2, 13). We find the word two times in this verse. Every Christian encounters distress in his or her life.
Christian comfort is not commiseration; that idea is that “misery loves company.” The thought in this verse is that we rest in God’s sovereign care in each circumstance we may experience (1 Pe 5:7).
that [purpose] we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble,
One reason behind God’s comfort of the believer is that he or she can, in turn, comfort others—and not only comfort them but do it in “any trouble” that they might face.
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Comfort comes from God Himself (2 Co 7:6; 2 Th 2:16). He always matches the pain with the right comfort. He either removes the pain from us or comforts us in it. We strengthen our faith when we see the sovereign hand of God in our problems. Suffering deepens our faith rather than weakens it.
We comfort one another with the comfort of God, not our own.
God’s comfort on an individual believer enables him to comfort others. Our Lord channels His comfort through other believers. The means whereby we comfort others is how we have been comforted.
Religion in the Roman Empire had the view that God was appeased by service. This is a utilitarian view of God; that is, people will profit in some way if they serve their god. The Christian view of suffering is the opposite of that idea. The source of the Christians’ comfort is divine. Pressure and distress enable Christians to gain perspective on eternal values. If we do not orient to God’s viewpoint, then we experience the perspective of being hemmed in. Temporal issues are not nearly as important as the eternal viewpoint (2 Co 4:17-18).
The trouble that comes to our lives is not a chance happening. It is not a matter of bad luck (1 Th 3:3). Pain is in this world because of sin. It serves as a principle of how God operates.