Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Bridge of Comfort

“Sufferers want to be ministered to by people who have suffered. They are suspicious of people who appear to live lives of ease. He (God) has given a role to messy, wimpy people like me. He has made us His ambassadors of reconciliation, and suffering gives us credibility with a hurting world and demonstrates God’s sufficiency to meet our needs.” by Stephen F. Saint in his essay, “Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Work of Missions”

Not long after my 2nd brain surgery that took care of the remaining 10% of my epileptic seizures I thought, “Wow what a wonderful thing it would be if what I went through cured all epileptics world wide.” It wasn’t a thought of heroism but one of pity, concern, and comfort contemplating only one person having to go through what I did in order for all epileptics to be suddenly cured.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way and to this day my niece still suffers herself from seizures. What I went through cured only me but there is something I can do. I can comfort others dealing with similar situations and minister to them. Since we learn and mature from our struggles perhaps that is a better way to go.

Those who have survived the storms in life whether it is marital problems, financial difficulties, prodigal children, health issues and such make good bridges for those coming along similar roads. It’s our job once we are through to turn around and lend a helping hand to those who have yet to cross. One of the biggest things it does for them is to let them know they are not alone.

As fellow sufferers it becomes our task or witness to show others they can make it across. The example we set before them in this Suffers Anonymous club are part of the planks laid down to help others across.

Years ago when man was heading West the best way to go was to find a scout who had been there and done that and knew what to expect. It had to be extremely comforting to know that the scout leading them knew what they were doing because they had been through it before. Having an experienced scout never stopped a lot of the tragedies and heartaches that would occur but it helped in difficult times.

Once we have gone through our suffering of whatever kind we don’t have to go out looking for a little old lady to help cross a street or anything, the opportunities will come. In the midst of my greatest marital struggles I was surprised to see and hear from people I never even knew traveled the road I found myself currently lost on. They took me by the hand and guided me through some pretty rough waters.

Their suffering didn’t set up a cure for all married couples who followed them but what they got out of their own journey would help another along. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians told them, “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.” 2 Cor 1:3,4 (NKJV).

Believe it or not our idea of comfort in suffering is to not have to suffer. We figure if God really loves us and wants to comfort us then He should take our troubles away. People, people, people when will we ever learn.

Suffering needs to be used as a tool to teach us what we need to learn in order to pass on that knowledge to others traveling down similar roads. It’s not a time to kick those who are down and think of ourselves as a failure. A failure is someone who when they fall they stay down. Comfort sets us up on our feet again, it’s the pit stop needed to gain strength in order to finish the journey not quit it. It’s the mile-marker used to see where we are and how far we have yet to go. It’s a light in a dark tunnel that gives us hope.

Comfort can go a long ways, may we use it wisely but most importantly may we accept it just as well. Too often we want to wallow in our self-pity and refuse to be comforted. Boy, I’ve been there and done that and it didn’t work. No, the better thing to do is to accept it, use it, and make a bridge out of it to help others across life’s roughest waters.

The only toll on this bridge should be the price we had to pay to learn what we did in order to pass it along.

Our host this bright and sunny day is Kathryn on her blog,
Expectant Hearts. Hop on over there and read and share with the gang on today’s fantastic quote.


D.J. Hughes said...

Today's quote led me to the same passage of Scripture. I love your analogy of a scout leading someone out West. Only someone who had been there before could lead the way for others. I always appreciate your take on things.

Debbie said...

Karen, I love how you can be that bridge of comfort to others who deal with seizures. I love the 2 Corinthians verse too.

Blessings and love,