The Comfort of Suffering
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV) tells us, “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 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. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
If you are anything like me, putting your heart, feelings, and struggles out there for all to see is very difficult. Why would I want to air my dirty laundry? That would be crazy! It’s easier to maintain that perfect Christian status if you just keep everything to yourself and put up a front. If you fake it till you make it, no one will ever have to see you struggle. It is human nature to desire to feel strong, not weak. It is embedded into us since childhood: Strength > Weakness. What a great misconception we have. In fact, in order to truly be strong, we must first embrace our weakness.
Having pain and struggles are inevitable, but it is the pain/struggle that shows us our desperate need for Christ. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” It was at our very weakest moments, boggled down by the weight of sin that God chose to love us. He loved and comforted us. Likewise, the body of Christ, the Church, is meant to be there for one another. We are meant to have a heart for our fellow believers and for all mankind. Not everyone on this earth has shared in Christ’s suffering. Not everyone rests firmly in the His’ comfort.
Therefore, it is our privilege as believers, to share in one another’s suffering as well. Charles Spurgeon said, “I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.” God has given us a great gift through suffering. As absurd as that may sound, it is true; suffering is a tool for ministry. When we do not hide, but bring our hurt out of the darkness, not only are we able to heal, but we are able to comfort those who are suffering through similar circumstances that we have endured. Brothers and sisters rejoice in your suffering and rest in Christ’s comfort. Don’t hold back your experiences from one another for Christ has given us the very hardship and pain we need in order to further advance His kingdom.