“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.
Barbara Streisand sang a popular song in the 1960s called “People.” A line in that song said that “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” And isn’t it true? People need people. And we need one another even more in times of difficulty. So what do we do when people we know are hurting?
Christians will experience God’s comfort many times and in many ways, whether it is His mercy, grace, healing, and help. But God does not comfort us to make our lives better, He comforts us so we can comfort others who are hurting. We might have a tendency to try to hide our struggles from those around us. Yet, when we are vulnerable with others about our suffering, we find deep joy in Christian community. Our painful experiences can also open doors for us to come alongside others who are suffering.
Every follower of Jesus can have a ministry of encouragement because every believer has experienced pain or difficulties of one kind or another and has been comforted by God. The comfort that we received from God may just be the comfort that people who are hurting need.
Ask yourself several questions: first, are you approachable? If people feel safe disclosing their problems to us, most likely we are approachable. Secondly, are you available? Don’t be afraid to approach a person in pain. Chances are, they want someone to listen. Inside, they may be like the Psalmist who cried, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” (Psalm 25:16). It doesn’t really matter what we say to comfort people during a time of suffering, it’s our concern and availability that really counts. We just need to be available, as Christ is available to us. When He was comforting His disciples before He left them, they were confused, questioning, and frightened. He said, “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16: 22).
Third, do we pray for those who are hurting? A simple prayer, a Scripture that has meant something to you can be a comfort to a hurting person. Rather than giving personal advice, how much better would it be for Christians to share God’s loving promises? It is a comfort to hear the words of God in times of stress.
- What are the ways we can show more mercy, love, and kindness to those who are hurting? Is there something we can stop doing? Do more of? Improve?
- In what practical ways can we better reflect God’s mercy this week?