I love/hate it when you go to church and the sermon hits just a little too close to home… and when you can’t help but let the tears fall onto your lap silently.
One such Sunday, the speaker talked about something that — for his family — was one of those defining moments we all have. You know, the ones you start to classify life by: before ____ and after ____.
In this particular situation, something that initially looked so good turned out so bad. And it’s at those moments when we look back on the past few weeks/months/years and ask why.
Why did _____ have to endure that?
Why did God leave _____ there?
Why didn’t He rescue ______?
It just feels rotten. And we’ve all been there.
So when this particular speaker preached on being comforted during troubled times, less than an hour after I got some sad news, it was hard. I felt a bit like he had opened an old wound… with a machete. The moral of his sermon was the same lesson I’ve learned before and one I need to remind myself of often: sometimes the sufferings in life are just as important as the blessings. Or perhaps, even more succinctly, sometimes the sufferings actually become the blessings.
II Corinthians 1:4-5 says it like this: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”
Why did we have to endure that? Why did God leave us there? Why didn’t He rescue us? Because He put us there (it was no accident!), so we would turn to Him, and allow Him to comfort us. Then — and herein lies the purpose — we are to share our pain with others so we may show His comfort to them.
Consider this thought from Dinah Maria Mulock Craik: “Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
Can you imagine?
Do you have people like that in your life? And more importantly — are you that someone in the lives of others? That is my prayer for us today.
Portions of this post were originally published on my personal blog in August of 2012.