I sat quietly, listening as each family went around and shared stories about their lives. Children with Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, paralysis, behavioral disorders and undiagnosed but devastating symptoms. Each family had a story — a heartbreaking, but beautiful, story.
I tried to give my full attention to each speaker, since this was our first time attending a special needs support group, but I found my mind spinning with doubts, denial and fears.
How did we end up here? Do we really belong?
Even after seven years of seeing doctors and searching for answers to our child’s neurological and behavioral challenges, I was still struggling to accept that I was living a life I’d never imagined or expected.
In fact, life has been nothing like my dreams. Instead it’s brought special needs, financial loss, chronic pain and our family of six all suffering with the painful and devastating symptoms of Lyme Disease.
However, this is the life God has lovingly and purposefully chosen for me, and each and every aspect of it contains an eternal and glorious thread that’s woven into the tapestry of God’s sovereign plan.
One of those threads weaves in the truth that circumstances we never would have chosen for ourselves may be the very platform God uses to bring the hope and comfort of Jesus to others hurting in our sphere of influence.
For example, while I never would have chosen to be thrust into the world of special needs and Lyme Disease, it’s allowed my family the unique opportunity to offer the comfort and hope of Christ to many people who suffer in a similar manner.
While sharing Christ’s comfort is not limited to those suffering in the exact way we are, it’s a unique blessing when the Lord brings someone alongside us who can understand our specific pain and bring the comfort of Christ they’ve received as they’ve walked a similar road.
As much as we struggle to understand why God allows certain circumstances in our lives, His ways and purposes are often far beyond our limited understanding.
However, we can be assured our suffering will not be wasted as we walk with Christ. He will use it to make us more like Him and bring Him glory. Second Corinthians 1:3-4 promises God will comfort us in our affliction as we trust in Him and, in the overflow of our own comfort, we are able to bring that same comfort to those around us.
Friend, if we as Christians never suffered or found hope and comfort within it, how could we bring any real hope to a hurting world?
Though we may not understand why God has allowed certain trials into our lives, let’s trust He has chosen our path of suffering for His greater purpose of drawing us near to Him in comfort, while bringing that hope and comfort to those He’s placed in our path. And ultimately glorifying Him through it.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV),“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.”
2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (ESV)
Psalm 119:50, “This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” (NASB)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How have your specific trials and suffering provided an opportunity to encourage and offer the hope of Christ to others in your sphere of influence? Who can you share the comfort of Christ with today?
Are you, or is someone you love, hurting? May you be nourished, comforted and encouraged by Sarah Walton and Kristen Wetherell’s words in their book, Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering. Hurt is real. But so is hope. Sarah and Kristen have walked through, and are walking in, difficult times. So these 30 biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life — yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life.
Post previously appeared on Proverbs31.org