“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)
Oftentimes when things happen to us, we automatically assume that whatever has happened is primarily about us. Fortunately, that logic is not always true. In reality, many of the things we endure have nothing to do with us personally. Children have to live (and sometimes suffer) with the mistakes of their parents. Players on the team must deal with the consequences of decisions made by their coaches and owners. We can seemingly do all the “right” things and still find ourselves as the recipient of unwarranted pain because hurt people eventually hurt people. Yes, every now and then, we must persevere through circumstances that are not necessarily our fault but nonetheless become our burden. There is no easy answer for why this is so, but there is a perspective we can adopt to help us to overcome and endure.
We can choose to focus not so much upon the why of our circumstances and instead ask God to show us more clearly WHO God is and what we are to learn through our predicament. We can put our greatest effort into seeing and experiencing the presence of God with us in the midst of our difficult time instead of merely lamenting the unfairness of our plight and begging God to make it all go away; quickly. Adopting this mentality requires that we see ourselves as conduits, not merely as containers. Meaning this, I won’t always know the reason for my hardships, but I can still make sense of them by choosing to pass along whatever good I learn (and experience) in the process. The fact of the matter is that the perspective we carry along our journey often determines the quality of our ride. Whether it is smooth or bumpy, swift or long, scenic or boring really depends upon the eyes we take to it. The encouragement for the day is to choose to see the heart and hand of God in all things. Decide that no matter what you may experience in life, be it triumph or tragedy, you will know God better through it all. Not everything is about punishment, but if we look closely enough we can see that in everything there is an opportunity to witness God’s promises fulfilled. How could we ever grab hold to the blessing of being comforted, if we don’t first know the pain of grief? Which of us could ever be called a child of God, if we are not first confronted with violence and yet choose to make peace. (See Matthew 5:4, 8)
No, God doesn’t make us suffer to prove some point that may forever remain elusive. But, yes, what Christ said is true, “in the world you will have tribulation” and suffering because evil is real and the evil one is relentlessly committed to our destruction. (John 10:10; 16:33) How we deal with suffering will most certainly determine the quality (and sometimes the quantity) of our days. No matter our circumstance, God has promised through the person and power of Jesus Christ to shower us with comfort, strength, peace, wisdom and grace. What if we decided to share those very same things with the hurting, dying, and fragile who surround us each day? We can be conduits of comfort. By God’s help and in Christ’s strength, we can extend grace in subtle and profound ways.
Recently, the media coverage of the attacks in Paris has reignited a debate about whose pain deserves attention. The argument is that we seem to be so moved by the pain of those who are prominent, beautiful and fair. While the despair and hardships of those who are poor, dark and on the fringes are barely noticed. Here’s the truth, there is no drought of love, compassion, tears or even prayer in our world. Our issue is and always has been in how those and other resources are distributed. Nevertheless, we can’t force anyone to do what we won’t do. It always starts with us. If we would release some of what we have already received from the hand of God; no one will have to go without. Today, don’t merely lament what hasn’t been done, simply decide to do the best you can. Believe that you can be a conduit carrying good to the people and the places that need it most, even if they are right down the street, or in the next office or perhaps sitting just across the table.
“The LORD has told you, human, what is good; he has told you what he wants from you: to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God.” Micah 6:8 (NCV) #letsgo