What To Expect When Suffering
2 Cor. 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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.
Suffering is suffering, in part, because it is unexpected. We are never completely read for it. Suffering sears open new experiences of human experience to us that we never thought we would or could endure. But when we suffer, we who are in Christ can and should expect certain things:
Our friends will say stupid, unhelpful things. It happened to Job, who had relatively thoughtful friends. Don’t be surprised by it. And don’t be quick to end the friendship over it.
God will meet you with consolation . . . The God Who is sovereign over all will never leave you nor forsake you. He will meet you, to console you, through three means: His Word, your praying and others’, and the simple words of friends. While some friends will let you down, others will be God’s very channel of flowing grace to you.
. . . today. And expect His consolation for tomorrow to come tomorrow. Just as He gave Israel only the manna they needed for today, so He will do with you. Expect today’s manna today, and tomorrow’s tomorrow. He’s often a just-in-time Savior. Yesterday’s Scripture will leap off the page today, as if you’ve never read it before. Tomorrow’s prayer will feel as if you’re not the one saying it - because you’re not. Today’s words from a friend will prove just the right few words, for just the right moment. Manna, from heaven.
God intends to console others tomorrow, through the comfort He gives you today. See the verse above. It is natural, when punched in the gut, for our body to curl up inwardly, around the punch. So it is with suffering - we curl in on ourselves, around our wounds of suffering. But the more we curl in, the tighter and darker our perspective becomes. Then we become more focused on our pain, less sane, more blind to God and everyone else.
So when suffering, look up and out. Expect God to bring another across your path - not necessarily with your same suffering, but one who needs the same comfort and consolation God has given you. God, in His complex wisdom, was preparing you, to bring indescribable good to another, which you could otherwise never have brought.