Sunday marked the three-year anniversary. On the afternoon of Oct. 22, 2014, I pondered what had just happened. By God’s grace I defaulted to Scripture.
I had counseled people to turn to God’s Word in their times of greatest need. And then in my time of need, God graciously sent me to His Word. The passage He set before me was 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
God reminded me that not only is He an all-knowing God, but a purposeful God. He even finds a purpose for our pain. God comforted me that day with the knowledge that He would use my experience to prepare me to help others who may one day experience the same thing. My hurt was real, and it ran real deep. But God’s grace dives deeper than any depth to which our heart can plunge.
Lessons I learned from my pain
I have seen the promise of this passage bear fruit in a couple of ways.
First, I have been able to encourage other pastors who have faced the same circumstance I did. I experienced it first of all on the receiving end. A pastor friend had experienced forced termination several years before and now is leading a thriving church. He immediately came alongside me as both my advocate and encourager. I have asked God to help me encourage other pastors as this friend encouraged me.
Second, God eventually led me to a congregation somewhat wounded itself. The church had been without a pastor for about 15 months. Consequently, the months before the former pastor left had been a time of turmoil. God brought together a wounded pastor and congregation, both of whom needed love – a match made in heaven. My broken heart has made me tender toward the people of our church. I am more acutely aware of the hurts of people than I have ever been.
Encouragement for your pain
So if you experience “affliction” in any way, ask God to redeem your affliction. Rather than asking God to deliver you from your hurt, ask Him to use your hurt to help others.
God never wastes our tears. He uses them to irrigate His greatest blessings as He uses us to encourage others in similar situations. The things we learn about life, God, and ourselves in the difficult moments are the greatest lessons. We can pass these lessons along to fellow “hurters” that will help them in their journey. Only a God as great as Jehovah can cause His glory to shine through our pain. To HIM be glory in our lives.
This post originally appeared at JimDuggan.org.