“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” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).
“Don’t waste your pain, let God heal it, recycle it, utilize it and use it to bless other people” (Pastor Rick Warren).
When we have a bad or painful experience we often don’t know what to do with it. Sometimes we try to forget, acting as if it never happened, stuffing it in the past, only to have it leak out on us at unexpected times and in surprising ways. Other times we get stuck in our past experiences. We can’t seem to move on. Every experience in the present is seen through the lens of that painful past event. Neither of these approaches is healthy. What should we do with difficult experiences? How can we experience God’s comfort and encouragement in times of trouble?
The apostle Paul experienced many severe trials. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he listed some of his sufferings: “imprisonments, countless beatings, five times received 40 lashes less one, three times beaten with rods, once stoned and left for dead, three times shipwrecked, two days adrift at sea, in danger from floods, robbers, danger from my own people, Gentiles, wilderness, in the city, toil, hardship, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, in cold and exposure… Who is weak and I am not weak?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Yet, he knew how to get comfort from God not only to endure hardship but to have an overflow of comfort to offer others who were in pain.
Paul taught the Corinthians how to face suffering and experience God’s comfort. The Scripture teaches us that we can experience God’s encouraging comfort in at least three ways:
- By allowing other Christians to offer God’s comfort to us.
- By ministering to others even in the midst of our own suffering.
- By witnessing the testimonies of how God has brought others through trials.
“Don’t waste the pain.” Let God’s comfort flow to heal your painful experience and then allow it to overflow in a surplus of comfort to others. God wants to use your experiences to be an encouragement to others that are struggling and hurting in the same place(s) that you once did.