Scripture: II Corinthians 1: 3-5 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.

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land (settle down and hold on to the last) and you will feed surely on God’s faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed (in return).

OUR STRENGTH RETURNS WHEN WE LEND IT TO SOMEONE ELSE

I spent this past week out in Colorado visiting my son, his wife, and my two grandchildren while my husband attended a medical conference in Denver. I was somewhat concerned when we left because my fibromyalgia pain was rearing its ugly head and I felt drained. You don’t want to feel drained when you spend a week with a three and a five year old! However, we had promised to watch Katie and Andy while our son and his wife took a very much needed weekend away and I also wanted to be a help to them through their crazy busy work week. What I found remarkable was that helping them and caring for the children made me feel better. Oh, the pain didn’t let up; I just didn’t have the opportunity to pay attention to it. Although I had some rough nights and am now ready to soak in a hot tub and sleep for a day, I praise God for giving me the strength I needed to not only help out where I was needed, but to enjoy it! God has been faithful through 26 years of illness to lift me up when I needed to be on deck and to give me the opportunities to use my pain to help others, if in no other way than being understanding and compassionate.

In II Corinthians 1: 3-5 Paul says,

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.

I like to think that is why God has allowed me to experience the profound fatigue, pain, depression, and brain-fog that are the hallmarks of fibromyalgia. He knew I needed to move beyond my pain and weakness to do something good for someone else who was hurting in the same way. Rather than curling up in a dark corner with my pain and fatigue wrapped around me in a blanket of selfishness, God commanded me to reach out and do good. When I obeyed him, he turned my distress into wings upon which quite a few people’s answers could ride. And, in turn, He sent others to comfort me.

Our human nature is to turn inward when trouble comes our way. We look around to see who is going to help us. The truth is that what we need the most is often a byproduct of meeting a need in someone else’s life. And it is certainly true that when you look around, you are most certainly going to find someone who is suffering a lot more than you are, right? If I am in pain, I can find someone who is in agony. If I am physically disabled, I can find someone who is quadriplegic. If I am struggling financially, I can walk the streets and see the destitute. If I am lonely and depressed, I can look into the eyes of a thousand who are lonelier and more depressed. Christian radio speaker and author, Cynthia Ruchti, wrote,

Moving from helpless to helper is not so much a matter of physical ability as it is a matter of the heart. You will be amazed at how miraculously your own needs will be met when you stop focusing on them and instead focus on lifting someone else’s burden.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 37 gave us a prescription for fighting discouragement amidst suffering. In verse three he wrote,

Trust in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land (settle down and hold on to the last) and you will feed surely on God’s faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed (in return).

We don’t find it unusual in difficult circumstances to hear the advice ” trust the Lord”, but look at the rest of the prescription; do good. God carries the thought beyond trust to action. The last thing I feel like doing in a crisis is to do a good deed, and yet that’s what God asks. He says that when we feed on His faithfulness and do good, we will be fed. In times of crisis, the ones we call heroes are the ones who stop wallowing, pick themselves up, and use what strength God gives them to help the other victims around them. The Bible tells us that somehow, miraculously, our problems fade and our strength returns when we lend it to someone else. Suffering is all around us and yet, when we are called to endure hardships or pain, we seem to think that we are the only ones that are experiencing it, don’t we? I am certainly not belittling anyone’s suffering. I know only too well what it feels like. Perhaps this D-mail message was meant for me! Anyway, if it grabs your attention as it has mine this week, I hope you will remember to trust God and do good.

Prayer : Lord, I praise you for your faithfulness in times of pain and distress. I trust that you know better than I what I truly need to survive painful times. Thank you for putting needy people in my path to pull me out of my cocoon of suffering. Thank you for using me and the experiences with depression, pain, and distresses that I have survived through your mercy, to make me more compassionate. Help me to comfort others as I have been comforted. Amen