READING: Proverbs 3-5, 2 Corinthians 1
“He comforts us in all our affliction. . . .”
2 Corinthians 1:4
Many have been the times when I as a pastor have not been equipped to comfort church members who were hurting. I’ve wanted to walk with them, hold their arms, and give them strength—but I couldn’t do it. My problem, though, was not that I didn’t care. It wasn’t that I didn’t love them. It wasn’t that I had not been to seminary yet. It wasn’t that I didn’t have some sense of how to do pastoral care.
Rather, the problem was that I had never walked in the shoes of the people I was trying to comfort. I couldn’t talk about the pain of divorce, as I had never experienced that pain. I didn’t know what it was like to lose a child to death, grieve the suicide death of a spouse, suffer the loss of a home to natural disaster, or worry after the loss of a job. I could love the people, of course, but I couldn’t even pretend that I understood what they were feeling. I would have been lying to say such a thing.
Others, though, had been there. They had walked in their shoes, even if their own experiences were so painful they were tough to discuss. Because they had been there, they knew the tears. The sleepless nights. The worries. The fears. The faith struggles. The questions. And, they knew the unique, powerful comfort that God gives. Their trust in God was more than simply faith waiting for God to act; it was a faith rewarded when God brought them through these worrisome nights. They had learned that God genuinely comforts His own.
Paul reminds us, then, that God comforts us so that we might comfort others: “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4). See, God wraps His arms around us so that we might learn to do the same for others. He uses us out of our affliction, a fact that reminds us of God’s sovereign control of the world. He allows us to need comforting so that we might later turn and comfort others. That truth may not eliminate the pain we face in struggles in this world, but it does give us renewed hope that God will use our pain for His glory and thus allow others to be comforted as well.
That’s understanding our pain through the lens of eternity – and that’s a good way to look at it.
- Thank God for those who have comforted you in the past.
- Comfort someone who is hurting today. Share the comfort God has given you.
PRAYER: “Father, I’m grateful that You have brought me through much stuff. Help me now to comfort others.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Proverbs 6-7, 2 Corinthians 2