9 December 2023

Comfort and joy: Comforted to comfort


A photo shows a wooden manger scene with a baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph figures. Text reads: Comfort and joy.

In a series of Advent reflections, Niamh considers how we can share the comfort of God with others.

What brings you comfort? The first thing that came to my mind was my family. Over the past 18 months, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost two of my grandparents. I have experienced the grief and sadness along with the rest of my family and we have comforted each other.

I recently heard a song called ‘Wonderful’ by Cain, which helped me understand how I have been comforted by God and how I can now comfort others.

It’s the time of year
When happiness and cheer
Won’t be enough
To get me through the night

I need a Wonderful Counsellor
The Mighty God, the Prince of Peace
Who’s strong enough to carry me
Immanuel, God with us,
The one whose love will never end
Oh, Jesus, can you make this season

I have been comforted through the love shown to me through others and by the love God has shown me. I feel Jesus’ presence with me during times of pain, through times of doubt and even when I do not understand the ‘why’. God has given me inner strength to face these times and, even though I am still grieving, I take comfort from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:4: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’

I have felt comforted by God through his presence making me feel at peace with the loss and sadness I have felt.

Jesus’ birth was God’s love coming down to Earth. Jesus came to Earth during a time of oppression and loss of hope under Herod’s reign. When we look beyond the Christmas lights and celebrations today, we can see a loss of hope and people facing injustice across the globe. From conflict to discrimination, our world is in need of hope, light and a Saviour.

This year, of all years, the celebration of the birth of Jesus needs to be not only celebrated but also used as a renewal of our energy to bring hope and comfort to others.

As Christians, we believe that the birth of Jesus was a symbol of God’s love, and his coming will bring us life: a life of hope, joy and comfort.

But the comfort we have received is not only for personal consumption: it is also for us to share and give to others. The Salvation Army’s mission was based on giving comfort to others, and that mission is still needed today, through physical, emotional and spiritual support.

However, we cannot pass on the comfort that the birth of Jesus has given us if we have not been comforted by it ourselves. You might be going through a really difficult time. Or you might not have noticed how God has comforted you or has been comforting you through others. God does this in so many ways. It could be through the answering of prayers, through feeling the Holy Spirit within us, overwhelming us with emotion, or through a feeling of calm and peace.

We can also bring comfort to people in many ways. It does not have to be a grand gesture: it can be as simple as talking to someone or sharing a smile, because we know that God is in us and works through us. Sharing joy – the joy that God gave us through the birth of Jesus – can bring the comfort of God to others.

Through my sadness and loss, I have realised how God has brought me comfort. He has eased my sadness and begun to turn it into joy, so that I can now use it to bring comfort to others.

I do not know what Advent and Christmas will mean for you this year, but I hope you will experience the comfort that only Jesus can bring.

Written by

A photo of Niamh.


Regent Hall

Listen to this reflection

Niamh has shared an extended version of this reflection on the Sunday Worship Podcast.

Sunday Worship Podcast

Discover more

A podcast of reflections for Advent inspired by Christmas carols.

Support artisan communities in Bangladesh and Kenya.

Teaching and prayer and worship resources to help congregations explore the theme of 'Comfort and Joy' this Christmas.

Photos from the territory’s annual carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall.