“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. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”
II Corinthians 1:3-7 NKJV
As I proceed through this life, the Lord has brought many experiences that have served to define and refine me. Each has made a lasting mark, and has created an enduring memorial in the museum of my soul. All of my experiences, the good and the bad, the righteous and the sinful, have added to my testimony.
In the thick of each circumstance, one can lose sight of any purpose God may have, as the pain and uncertainty cloud any notions of what may come from all of it. I know now that God was using all of my experiences to create for me a custom ministry, as the things that I have endured, and what everyone endures can be used that I empathetically comfort those who have been similarly afflicted.
This mornings reading took me into II Corinthians, and one of my favorite passages. It is welcome reminder of the purpose of suffering, and how it can be used by God to reach those He desires to save.
The sin of man has caused all creation to groan, and no thing or person escapes. We are damaged in some way. God does not waste hurts. I remember years ago sharing some of my darkest secrets before a packed congregation on a Sunday morning. I remember standing there, feeling naked and exposed, raw, as I shared things in public that only previously been shared in small settings.
In the aftermath that day, and for weeks to come, many shared their own stories with me. God had used my suffering and His rehabilitation of me for His glory. I was His handiwork on display for all to see.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we have been given a testimony, as God has used every thing in our lives as an artist uses His palette. We are His masterpiece, a work He started before we were even born, and will be completed when we are glorified in His presence.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
II Corinthians 5:17-19 NKJV
We are ministers of reconciliation, telling those who are far off, of the God/Man who suffered as we suffer, who did so for us, and paid the ultimate price for our sins. He knows what we face, as He too went through many of things we too have faced.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
In Jesus we have the comfort of an empathetic God, who sent His Son to walk the same paths that we walk. Because of that, we know that He brings comfort. Let is go an tell others of that comfort, let us also minister to others our of our own sufferings.
God ordained my cancer, that I offer comfort to those who have cancer. Through my past trauma, I have been able to minister to others who likewise have been traumatized. Through every trial, and every struggle, God has defined for me a ministry, to show the love and glory of God. I go boldly to proclaim Jesus, the One who saved my soul and has comforted me daily.
You might be one who is in the midst of trial. Know this: Jesus knows. I will not tell you that coming to Christ will erase all your troubles, in fact they might increase, as the devil doesn’t like to lose. But God is for you, He will be with you, and if you ask for His forgiveness, He will be in you.
Nothing can separate us from His love.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
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