By Pastor Ronald Bernier, Master Builders Church, Fall River
Suffering is a part of life, whether we like it or not. I would think most of us would say "not". Yet, there is something important through our suffering that help us in our human relationships to identify with and bring encouragement to others. Without the experience of suffering in our own lives, we might be judgmental, cold, uncaring toward the experience of others. But through our own suffering we can identify with the enormous pressure we might have faced whether physically, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, or even through the persecution we have received by others. We also come to realize the importance of the relationship of others in our lives and how their encouragement and the strength and presence of God have given us hope to endure. Paul wrote to the Corinthians these words:
"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." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Paul did not just write this because it was something good to say. He experienced suffering in the deepest sense. He wrote: "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the gift granted to us through the many" (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
Here Paul reveals a couple of important things. Through suffering we are encouraged to turn to the Lord for our strength, knowing that our strength is not sufficient. Trusting in Him gives us the hope that we need for the present trial, because we have seen Him work in our past trials. We also receive deliverance of our present circumstance through the joint prayers of those who have lifted us up. Therefore when victory is declared, we can all rejoice together, knowing that we have all had a part in it.
If you are suffering today, may the Lord give you perspective that what you are going through can be an important experience to help others in the future. Draw from your past experiences and receive strength from the Lord and others as you hope in God. What He did before He can do again. Let the brethren join you in prayer and receive the comfort of their experience and love. If you see someone suffering today, may what you have experienced allow you to bring them comfort. Let you prayers go forth for their situation and bring whatever measure of comfort you can to their situation. As we stand together may the Lord receive the praise as He comforts and strengthens us all for His glory.