The wisdom of God in Suffering:
God uses suffering to equip us for ministry.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
“Who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction”
If you have ever gone through a time of deep trial (and almost all of us have), you know that the people who often bring the most comfort and understanding are those who have experienced a similar circumstance. They understand the emotions you are feeling and even the doubts about God that arise when we struggle in our faith. Others may genuinely give us sympathy, but those who have gone through the circumstance can empathize with us on a far deeper level.
As Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, Paul not only affirms that God is a God of comfort, but that God also uses people to be the channel through whom that comfort is expressed. The word comfort is more than just a feeling of sorrow at the loss of another, it is a word that involves action. When used in relationship to God, it denotes the comfort that God brings through his presence and assurance of our future salvation. It is the confidence that comes through the deep conviction that God will fulfill all his promises and that God will bring future deliverance and salvation when he comes. He gives us the assurance that the trials are temporary, but heaven is eternal. The Triune God does not ignore our suffering. The Father comforts us with the assurance that he is the source all comfort (vs 3). Christ brings comfort that abounds beyond measure (vs 4). The Holy Spirt, who is frequently called “The Comforter,” comforts us with his abiding presence (John 14:16). This gives us the hope and confidence that there is a plan and purpose behind all events in our life and that we have future guaranteed in heaven, prepared for us. This calms our troubled minds when we grasp that this “light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
This is the hope that we share with others. In times of trials it is easy to get tunnel vision--with no light at the end of the tunnel. But because we have experienced the comfort that God has given us, we can now effectively minister to others in their struggles. We can speak to the needs of others because we have a hope and confidence that God is at work. We can come along side of someone and affirm that we understand because we have been there. Then we have the opportunity to share with them the foundation of our hope.
As we are going through this crisis affecting the whole country, we all feel some level of stress and anxiety. But instead of complaining about all the events that are happening and the decisions that our governmental leaders are making, ask God for wisdom to share why we have a greater hope and confidence. Suffering is not only a time when God teaches us, but it is also a time of opportunity to minister and encourage others. This week ask God for opportunities to minister to those around you, that you can share the hope that God has given you. God has poured out his comfort for us so that we can in turn comfort others.