2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 5, 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. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. NKJV
I recently spoke with a young man who is aspiring to be a minister one day. He was telling me how hard his week had been. As I listened to his plight, I was reminded, as a pastor, of the things Debbie and I have endured. Then the Holy Spirit began to use me to speak wisdom into the heart of this young minister. As we sat in the sanctuary where he attended church, I began to explain how the people had come that Sunday morning to hear words of comfort, hope, and faith. If, as ministers, we never go through any difficultly, then there will be no way that any of us can relate to those who sit on the pews. Hebrews tells us that we have a High Priest who has been touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He can comfort us, because He knows what it is like to be afflicted and have the Father comfort Him in His afflictions.
Today, as I was asking the Lord what to send to you as a word of encouragement, He directed me to this passage in Corinthians. As I read the words that Paul had written over two thousand years ago, it dawned on me just how much the Lord had directed me to speak into the young minister's heart. God allows ministers to experience pain and suffering that He might give us comfort. As we receive that comfort, then we can, in turn comfort others who do not know God as we do.
As we talked on, I shared with him that he should take notice of how he was struggling in his difficulties, and that he should realize that perhaps he knew God at a greater degree than many of those who had attended service with him that day. If he, having an intimate relationship with the Lord is struggling, then how much more will the people who attend church, and who might not even know the Lord be struggling to either grasp faith, or hold onto faith in God? We are to comfort one another... whether the people we comfort are Christians or sinners. In doing so, we are allowing others to experience the love of God. They already know what the world does to them, but do they really understand that God loves them and desires that they be comforted with the same comfort that we have been comforted with ourselves?
None of us enjoys pain or suffering, but there's nothing we can do to prevent it from visiting us from time to time. Remember, we're told by Jesus that in this world we will have tribulation, but we should be of good cheer, because He has already overcome the world. (Ref. John 16) BUT, in our suffering we can allow the Lord to comfort us with His love through the Word, the Holy Spirit, and the body of Christ. As difficult as it is to have to endure suffering, it's an even greater blessing to be comforted by the God of comfort, and then be allowed to share that comfort with others as they hurt. So in a way, we are all the ministers of God... comforting one another in the love of God.
Who knows, but the Lord might just use you one day to bring comfort to a hurting person who is lost, and through your love, you will lead them to the God who IS LOVE. It is a pleasure and an honor to be allowed by the Lord to minister to you on a daily basis. May these words uplift you and give you the hope to endure and overcome so that you can comfort others in their time of need.
Freely We Have Received,