Our lives in this sinful and fallen world are going to include times of sorrow and pain. It is unavoidable. All who desire to love and follow Jesus will face persecution as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12. Children of God are not immune to sickness, to sorrow, or to the other evils that mankind faces.
What we must remember is that the Lord has a purpose, perhaps many purposes, for what we walk through. And if we are to walk through our suffering to its proper purpose, we must look to how that hardship might lead us to glorify God and bring grace to others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
As Paul opens the letter of 2 Corinthians, he is praising God for comfort in affliction. And if you will go and read that first couple of paragraphs, you will see that Paul is repeatedly clear about a couple of important things. We suffer. God comforts us in our suffering. And both our hardships and our comforts are for the good of others as well as for our own spiritual growth.
Suffering in life is a thing that is designed to make us rely on the Lord and look forward to eternity. Comfort from the Lord in our times of suffering is to make us worship the Lord in joy and gratitude. And, comfort in times of pain is something God gives to us so that we can help others who face similar pains. We comfort others with the comfort with which we were comforted.
What do you suffer? I am sure it is real and painful. It is also a thing that should drive you toward the Lord, toward longing for eternal life in his presence. I hope that God is also providing you with a means of comfort. Perhaps it is comfort in Christ and in the hope of eternity. Perhaps it is comfort in teaching you to cope with hardship. Perhaps it is comfort in an escape from your pain.
No matter what the comfort, the Lord wants you to find godly comfort in him and then to help others with your comfort. Your suffering is not merely for you. Neither is your comfort. If we are to live out the Christian life rightly, we must be in genuine communication with one another. We must be comforting each other in times of sorrow with the very comfort we have received from the Lord in our times of sorrow.
What does this mean for your life? If you have suffered, don’t waste it. Where did the Lord comfort you? How can you bring that comfort to bear for others?
Are you suffering? Don’t waste it. God wants you to let others in the body know. Do not keep it to yourself. Do not hide your sorrow out of a foolish pride or some silly notion that you would dishonor the Lord if people saw that you could face hardship. Do not whine and complain in self-pity. But, tell others and pray with others. Allow them to comfort you with the comfort they have received from the Lord.