2 Corinthians 1:3-4- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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.”
Trouble comes to us all! It’s sad, but it’s true. No one is exempt from the troubles of life. Black, White, Asian or Mexican; rich, poor, or middle class; old, young, or teen; it doesn’t matter. Trouble comes. And even worst, some of us experience our shares of trouble and enough to go around. How can we reconcile a loving God with all that we have to deal with? Some times it really can be a challenge, but getting the right perspective on the matter helps!
Paul says that God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort! A lot of people see this only in times of grief, but God really is the Comforter. He’s there for the person who has been abandoned by a spouse or parent. He is there is for the person who has been abused in any manner. He is there to help through the painful loss of a loved one. And yes, He’s even there in the loss of our possessions. But we have to allow Him to be that comfort, and some times we have to open our eyes and realize He is there. There in the midst of the pain, the loss, the confusion. He didn’t cause it, He didn’t even allow it to happen, but it did! And He is waiting for you to allow Him to comfort you.
When my mother died, I was about 9 years old, and I clearly remember someone telling me that God took my mother because He needed her. Well, that sounded pretty cruel to me, because how could He need her more than I did? I didn’t get it! But I give Him praise that in-spite of the mixed messages I received that day and throughout my growing years, I have found Him to be a good God and a very loving Father. And I don’t believe for one second that He took her because He needed her. Actually, I don’t believe He took her. Disease took her! A lack of medical knowledge and treatment may have assisted it. But God did not!
Whatever the tribulation…
I heard Pastor Joel Osteen share how his mother was healed of cancer in the late 1980s and how once she was healed, she began going to the hospital to pray with others who was going through cancer treatment. She was able to speak to them in a way that said, “I have walked in your shoes. I know your pain, your heartaches, and your struggles and I am here for you!” Isn’t that beautiful to know that God can send us to be His hand extended to the broken, down trodden, abused, battered, sick, or neglected? That He can actually take our ashes and turn them into beauty? Yes, He can!
I have had three pregnancies, three children, and I have three adults. We have been blessed. Of the three pregnancies, two were difficult, life threatening deliveries. Two of our babies were fighting for their lives before they had a chance to live. I know the challenges that come with that. I know the fears, the sleepless nights, the tears, the guilt of what did I do to bring this on. I know! But God comforted me as only He could! And when I had a chance to reach out and comfort a young mother who was going through that I didn’t have to search for the words of comfort, because I knew what comforted me.
When one of my dearest friends died from cancer after I and so many others were believing for a miracle, my heart hurt in a way I couldn’t imagine. But God comforted me. When my brother died in his apartment and we didn’t discover it for a couple weeks, the shock and pain that hit me was almost unbearable. But God comforted me. And since those incidents, I have had to comfort others with the same and similar incidents. The comfort with which I was comforted was a vehicle of comfort to another.
Some things I haven’t experienced and I am not able to articulate the grace given by God to overcome them. I have never been divorced, but if you have been and you survived, then God has given you a powerful weapon to use to comfort someone else who might be facing a divorce. Maybe you’ve lost every thing because of drugs, alcoholism, or some other addiction, but God brought you out. Guess what, it wasn’t just for you, but it was so that you could also be there for someone else who may experience the same thing.
Most of the time, when we are going through we can only focus on ourselves and our problems. At least that is the way I am. And probably you, also. But once you recognize the blessing of grace given to you to walk victoriously through a thing, then God expects you to help someone else get their victory.
The world gets it! A son is killed by a drunken driver and a mom starts a movement MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). A loved one is taken from this life via cancer, and pink ribbons and marches are started all over the world. A teen is shot in a high school and the parents go around the country sharing their grief and why we need more gun control and then reach out to parents who experience the same thing. They take their pains and heartaches and reach out to others with the same pain to make a difference in the lives of others who are experiencing what they went through. Some times we as Christians are the last to catch on.
Shame, guilt, pride and a host of other negative emotions keep us selfishly attached to our tribulations, when God says to us, “Let me show you how to get through this, and then go and show someone else how to be free.” Then the comforted can become the comforter.
You see, it’s not just enough to get a victory, we have to learn how to help others get their victories. Not to start an organization or a movement, but out of a sincere desire to see someone set free. So I ask you, what has God comforted you with? How has He worked things out for you? What situation, circumstance, or tribulation has He brought you through? Whatever, it is or was, He did it for your good and for the good of others! For freely you have received and freely He expects you to give. Wonderful Jesus!