One of the things I appreciate about Christianity is that it gives some solid and hopeful answers on the issue of suffering. When life hurts, it is so easy to lose perspective. And as we are grasping for help, sometimes it seems like all we hear from the world is “Life is tough, just deal with it.”
Thankfully, the Bible offers a whole lot more than that.
In II Corinthians 1, for example, the Apostle Paul gave some helpful insight into the unique value of our personal troubles. It goes like this:
“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.” (II Cor. 1:3-4)
The idea is that as God walks with us through our hard times and comforts us along the way, we will then be in a position to share what we learned with someone else in their moment of need. Whether it’s an experience with cancer, depression, a wayward child, or loss of someone you love, having gone through something like that with God will make you a credible, convincing witness of his faithfulness and incomparable love.
When you talk, people will listen.
Not too long ago I experienced a major setback with my health due to an aggravated back injury. The side-effects for the lower half of my body were very unpleasant and I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with it. That’s when my good friend Joe came to see me in the hospital. At my bedside he told me about how he had experienced something similar a few years back and how God gave him the grace to get through it. He described some of the nitty-gritty details to me so I could tell that he knew what he was talking about…he wasn’t just blowing smoke.
One, I was amazed that he had experienced what I was experiencing. Two, it gave me hope.
So, like Joe, I will soon get my turn to share with someone who really needs to hear how God, “the God of all comfort,” comforted me when I was in a low spot.
And so will you. Thank God, when we are in the midst of suffering, He has so much more to say to us than “Life is tough, just deal with it.”