Tim Richards Column: Comforting Others

Tim Richards, Special to The Rolla Daily News
USA TODAY NETWORK

My friend Larry Davies began his August 9, 2021, devotional: “We all occasionally suffer.” Suffering is a tragic but very real part of everyone’s life and some suffer far more than others. We also see family and friends endure tough times and most of us wonder, why is this happening, or where is God in this suffering? In his devotional Larry shared several stories of people who turned their suffering into a ministry to others:

He told of a woman in his church who had both knees replaced at the same time. Having one knee replaced is painful; having both knees replaced is excruciating! Shortly after her surgery, the hospital asked the woman to encourage others with the story of her surgery and recovery.

In other examples he told of a couple unable to have children of their own who started a Christmas Parent program which provides Christmas gifts to hundreds of needy children. Then was also a man who endured prostate cancer who began a support group to provide treatment information and spiritual encouragement to other men battling the disease.

In the church where I serve our “Grief Share” ministry is led by two wonderful ladies; Irene still grieves the loss of both parents and a brother; and Jan who endured the untimely death of her husband, still misses him. This support group is an incredible ministry and Irene and Jan are able to encourage others who are grieving because they have experienced crushing grieve.

On a personal note, my friend Anne lost a son to heroin and struggled through a time of intense pain but got involved with groups of parents struggling to deal with their children’s addictions.

The way each of these people responded to their tragedy is not merely good, it is Biblical. Larry came across this verse during his own period of suffering. “…God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (II Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT)

I have experienced this truth personally. Larry comforted me when I went through my divorce 20 years ago because he too had struggled. With God’s help the pain I endured taught me how to better minister during life’s most painful losses. Those who have struggled deeply are often best equipped to help others survive the pain of loss.

Larry concluded by reflecting we have an “amazing God who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” I could not agree more! Do not waste your struggles, use your painful past to help others currently overwhelmed by pain. Allowing God to work through your raw experiences has the potential to comfort you and others who are hurting.