“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.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4
We’ve all gone through things that lead others to seek us out for the wisdom of experience and sympathetic support.
Today I had the privilege of encouraging a woman who never expected that her family would see the challenges they are facing. She and her husband have two young children and they work in a nearby country, serving among least-reached people. This week her husband suffered terrible burns in an accident. By God’s grace, he’s going to be okay.
While I haven’t faced her exact set of circumstances before, I can relate to several things. When I heard her story I couldn’t help but remember that I’ve tasted those tears—sitting in hospital waiting rooms hopeful for a good report from my husband’s numerous arm surgeries. Making hard decisions. Pressing on in caring for my helpless babies in the middle of it all. Wondering what the future—tonight, tomorrow, years from now—is going to look like for our family. Learning practical things to help us creatively adjust to life with physical disabilities. And walking by faith.
Sometimes we hear about someone’s suffering and we can only imagine what that person must be going through. From the perspective of someone who has received great comfort from others, let me encourage you that it strengthens the heart to hear from someone that they are trying to imagine. Lonely feelings multiply at the thought that those around you can’t (or won’t) imagine.
Even though the affliction of others may be worlds apart from what you’ve gone through, the source of our real and abiding comfort is one and the same. It is God who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.
Jesus not only imagined our suffering, but he entered into it. There is no sympathy like the Lord's, and the comfort he gives is so great that it multiplies.