if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. [2 cor 1:6]
“does it ever seem like all you think about is you?” -marc sikma
“a selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort because the springs of his comfort lie entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry.” -c.h. spurgeon
as the eldest of three children, my mother loved to remind me of my influence over their lives. not so that i would take it and run with this power, but so that i would be aware that they are watching me. to this day i still pray that i stay aware of this. they look up to me, they emulate me and all i did was be born first. paul has much of the same experience through his testimony. people looked up to him, people followed him, they wrote to him and listened to his letters. but paul, unlike myself knew his influence without his mom telling him. our lives are not our own, why would our suffering be solely for us, why would our comfort be solely for us. God is about salvation, for everyone. my affliction is so you will grow. it is not about me, it is about those around me. God is in the business of relationship and people. our affliction and our suffering are never without purpose or use. all has use for the glory of God, so that others may see.
count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. [james 1:2-4]
the reason james wrote to count sufferings joy was not that he had found the secret to making suffering not hurt. rather he knew of the joy that could and would come from the fruit of believers suffering. when you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice will come out. the more you squeeze a follower of Christ, the more Christ will come out. that is what God wants for others to see Christ in us. and likewise, when we are comforted in our affliction, others have the chance to see our joy in Christ as we are comforted. your suffering and your comfort are not about you, it is about Christ being on display in you.
~ holly russell