Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Word In Motion:
I woke up the other morning with my knee hurting. Now, I’m not fond of pain and would much rather live a life of comfort. Suffering is not one of my favorite things. And I don’t do it very well. (Don’t worry, this post is not about suffering per se.) But my first thought, after “ow”, was not, “Oh, dear Lord, please heal my knee.” It was more like, “Who is this for?”
“Who is this for?”? What kind of a question is that? Looking at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 we discover a couple of things about our sufferings.
- God will comfort us in them.
- We’re supposed to share that comfort with someone in like circumstances.
- The unstated, but implied observation is that someone should be sharing their comfort with me. Which is really just restating the first point. That’s how God usually does it – through someone else.
So, the question is a good one. (Yes, I do sometimes get it right.) And right away someone came to mind. So, I prayed for him. Both of his knees are in bad shape because of his work. And every time I got a twinge of pain, I prayed for him again. He got a lot of prayer that week.
But here’s how I look at it. God allows us to “suffer” for basically two reasons. One for our character growth (that’s a whole other teaching, but a really important point.) And two, for someone else, whether it be for their character growth or simply healing (or whatever else God might be up to in their live.)
As for the first of these (our character growth), and this is the super short teaching, as long as we respond correctly it will happen (lots of Scripture to back up that one). As to the second (for someone else), we often are not aware of when or how that will happen. Sometimes it is right away, sometimes years away. I know that Cindy, my wife experienced some stuff in her life that didn’t comfort anyone until years later. And then, it wasn’t just one person, it has been many. Other times it’s a one-off thing, like I hope this knee thing is. But one thing I do know is that it’s not all about me. It never is.
So sharing this comfort is my goal. I’ve decided that I want to be proactive about it. I don’t want to wait until the pain is gone before I start sharing. (My knee still hurts and I haven’t got my comfort yet. But I know it will come and be available for sharing.) So for now I share my comfort by faith. And that comes in the form of praying for my friend.
I can’t help but wonder what would happen if this idea caught on. Something happens and immediately prayers are lifted up for someone or several people who suffer likewise.
Think about this from God’s perspective for a moment. He hears prayers all day long. Which one is he more likely to respond to? “Help ME, God,” or “Help HIM/HER, God”? I’m made in His image, and I’ll tell you which one I would respond to quicker: the one that’s not self-focused. It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just not where I would like to see the focus. Especially if there is someone out there whom God wants me to pray for and comfort. It’s like He is giving me this pain so that I can ease someone else’s. (And I won’t even get into how many reasons for that there may be.)
So here’s today’s challenge: What’s bugging you? Who do you know that is being plagued by that very same thing? Pray for that person. Trust that God is working likewise in someone else that they will have you on their heart.
It’s really a pretty cool plan that God has for us to get over ourselves and look out for the rest of the Body.