What if your afflictions have been afforded you to not only fortify your character, but also that you would encourage others in their suffering?
I know from personal experience, chronic physical and emotional pain can make you cold, hard, angry and depressed. It pushes your mind, spirit (that is, your attitude and emotions), and seemingly your very soul into dark places nobody goes willingly. It compels you to seek shelter in worldly “comforts,” which are only out to destroy you, such as drugs, alcohol and other addictions.
Dwell in this place too long and the whole world begins to morph into a shadowy, hopeless abyss. An abode from which we will go to extreme lengths to escape.
Yeah, I get it. “Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt,” as a former pastor used to say.
But please note: the Bible verses below may be life-changing for you. Read them slowly, several times over, letting them seep into your heart and mind.
“What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 TLB).”
Did you catch that? If you breezed through those verses, let me illuminate:
FIRST: God is our source of mercy, comfort and strength. If you need water, you go to the source to get it, whether that be a fountain or faucet. If you need food, you go to the source, may it be a garden or grocery store.
Thus, we must derive mercy and comfort from the source of life itself: Jesus Christ.
SECOND: God comforts us in our affliction (a wonderful concept of its own) so we may help to ease the suffering of others. It is our responsibility to mirror God’s kindness, compassion and encouragement with the hurting and lonely.
“It doesn’t take any Bible degree,” as the Christian rock group Petra once sang in the song, “Lift Him Up.” Sometimes, an arm around someone’s shoulder and a smile can help ease a burden. A simple, “Hey man, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there,” can be a great encouragement. You may not be a therapist or preacher, but you can let people know you understand, and you’ll be praying for them.
Just think how much light and joy we can bring into our own life by turning our burden into someone else’s blessing!
Have a great day, and keep your chin up.