Church Blog

Comforted to be a Comfort

Chad Haygood

One of the most difficult realities about life in a fallen world is that this life is filled with trials. Trials and afflictions are an inevitable part of life on earth. (James 1:2) We suffer and as long as we are on this earth, we can expect to continue to suffer. Though in many forms and to varying degrees, trials and afflictions will be a part of our lives.

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us without hope, even in the midst of trials! God has promised to be with us as we face afflictions. In perhaps the most famous Psalm we read these words, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”. (Psalm 23:4) God has promised to be near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and has promised deliverance from our afflictions (Psalm 34:19). As God’s children, we also have His promised Holy Spirit, who is our Helper (John 14:26; 16:7) and Jesus even promised His disciples that He would always be with them. (Matthew 28:20) We have reason to hope in our afflictions because we are never alone during them!

Yet another reason we have hope during afflictions is because God has promised to use our afflictions for our good. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God causes all things to work together for good. James 1:2-4 helps us to see that God uses trials to sanctify us, conforming us into the image of Christ. Afflictions are never meaningless. While painful, they help us. Afflictions grow us into Christ-likeness. As painful as it may sound, trials are an inevitable part of our sanctification. We can have hope during a trial because we can trust that God is using them for our good.

But there’s another reality that we ought to grasp that will give us hope during our trials. This reality is clearly seen in 2 Corinthians 2:3-7. What God shows us here is this simple truth: my trials are not only about me. God has determined that our afflictions do not only serve us, they serve others. My trials are not only about me, but they are about the comfort of others.

In typical Paul fashion, he wants to urge the Corinthians to praise God, as we see in verse 3. Then Paul gives us the reason why we ought to praise him: Because God is faithful to comfort his children in the midst of affliction so that we may be able to extend that same comfort to others in affliction. God ministers to His children during their affliction with the explicit purpose that they may be able to comfort others as well. Therefore, my afflictions are not about me, but for the comfort and salvation of others.

We have all experienced this; the family who has suffered the devastating loss of a child is the first to respond with care and concern to another family struck with the same affliction. We have offered counsel to others because we know how they feel and somehow feel in tune with what they need. How does this happen? Because God is faithful to comfort his children in the midst of affliction so that we may be able to extend that same comfort to others in affliction.

It is a tremendous encouragement to know that trials are not being wasted. God is at work through them. One of the ways He wants to work through afflictions is to enable us to fulfill His great command, that we would love Him and love one another. Take heart, suffering saint. God is at work in you, both for you and for others.