One of the ministries most needed in the Church today is that of consolation — comforting others in their time of trouble and affliction. Many believers simply do not know where to turn when they hurt.
The apostle Paul was as godly a servant of the Lord as ever walked on the earth, yet he endured suffering so overwhelming and powerful that he was utterly at a loss. In fact, at times he was so distraught that he thought death was at the door. Yet he referred to our heavenly Father as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). He said further in the same chapter, “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (1:8).
In referring to God as “the Father of mercies,” Paul was showing that he had learned from his sufferings. He was even able to rejoice in all his tribulations because he knew they were a kind of schooling for him. He had learned to say, “God has a purpose in this! People are going to need my influence, my comfort and my consolation.” In his sufferings, Paul had learned the valuable lesson of drawing consolation from the Lord.
When you suffer in your body, you become very patient with others who are suffering. You gain a newfound empathy for others. When you suffer and yet you dearly love the Lord (and are not hiding sin), you no longer look at another’s suffering and say, “I wonder what they did to deserve that.”
People who have endured suffering and come through faithful to God become strong, mellow and patient. They also possess the gentleness of Christ. It is encouraging to be around such people!
If you are suffering, trust God to see you through it. People will see you gain victory and consolation through the power of God alone and they will be attracted to what you have.