3 May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. 4 He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. – 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
I recently heard an interview with Ryan Leaf. He was the second player selected in the NFL draft of 1998, behind Peyton Manning. Believe it or not, there was serious discussion over who should be drafted first. He was that good, and then…everything went wrong. Long story short, he didn’t go on to NFL glory, he went to jail, addicted to pain killers. Now, from his life experience, he’s sharing his story to help others who are battling addictions. If you get a chance, you can hear a bit his story here.
Cyndi lost her son to addiction. Now she’s started a support group for people who have lost a family member to addiction.
We have a grief group that meets at our church, comprised of widows, who come together to support one another for those who know the pain of losing a spouse.
What do all of these folks have in common? Through their tribulations, the have found the strength, courage, and the will to help others who are going through the same things.
That’s what Paul is talking about here in 2 Corinthians.
It is precisely because of our experience and hardship, that God can use us to help others.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying God created our hardships, most of that we do on our own, or it’s just a part of life. However, I do believe that God can use that experience of suffering that we have gone through to help others.
Two things come to mind for me today in this passage through Paul’s words. One, God is with us in our time of trial and in our tribulations, and God knows what it’s like because Jesus suffered on the Cross. Two, God wants to make good come from our hardships. Like the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes, God brings new life where the world sees death.
My friend Judi was part of widows group at a congregation I used to serve. She said once, “We don’t want new people for our group, (because it means they are suffering the loss of a spouse), but we are here for anyone who needs us.” They went to lunch together every Sunday after worship, because they had learned that was a lonely time for widows.
So, you know your hardships. If you are currently going through some hard time, ask for help, find someone who has been there before, and learn from them. If you have come through tough times and suffering, how does God want to use you to help others who are now going through similar situations?
Prayer: Lord, you have walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death. Now use me as a guide for others who travel this road. Amen.