2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
I listened to a friend who was sitting across the table. The story sounded very familiar. As she talked, I could clearly see what had happened. Only a few months earlier, I had experienced a similar event in my life. I knew exactly how my friend was feeling.
Perhaps you have been in the same position finding yourself uniquely equipped to give compassion and comfort in a situation. Your past prepared you in advance, giving you wisdom to help others finding their way through a struggle. At the time, you would have rather skipped the painful difficulty, but now you see how God is using it for good.
This may be where that very familiar verse comes in: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). Those things in your life you once were convinced had no value, God is now showing you their worth as you use your experience to show compassion to someone who is hurting and needs hope.
Paul is talking here about a pay it forward idea. We have had troubles but through those troubles God has provided us comfort. Now, we have what it takes to give our comfort to the next person who needs comfort. The cycle continues as each person passes the comfort to the next, continually pointing back to the Source from which the comfort originated—God, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
The New Testament is full of stories in which this very thing happened. Jesus meets person; Jesus comforts person; Person tells others; Others meet Jesus. It's a cycle that not only brings comfort and compassion, it also can bring salvation! Today’s passage of Scripture declares that there is definitely redemptive value to the difficult episodes of our lives. We just need to turn them over to God so He can open doors for us to use them to help and encourage others.
Have you had an opportunity to show compassion and comfort to someone because you have experienced what they are going through?