Notes in the Margin 9.25.11

I haven't had many trials or hard times in my life. There have been times of pain and sadness, times of disappointment, frustration, and hurt feelings, but I've really never suffered. Not in comparison to others. I've never lost a friend or family member I was close to, never dealt with severe sickness, never wanted for anything physically, and never been completely alone. I realize how good God has been to me, and I'm grateful for His goodness.

But I still know that life can hurt. And usually when life hurts, I don't understand why I have to go through this or that particular hurt. I try to stay positive, knowing that God always works things out according to His plan. But sometimes most times, its hard to see His plan, and it makes the hurt worse because I can't see the reason behind it (yet).

This morning, Jason had us look at Acts 5-8, which includes a few stories of the church and/or the apostles undergoing persecution. He outlined a few reasons for why we suffer, and he mentioned at the end of the sermon that he hopes our church family is there to support us when we go through hard times.

Fast forward to tonight, and I'm doing my homework for the Beth Moore 'Living Beyond Yourself' Bible study. Go figure that tonight's homework is about finding joy in the midst of suffering. Beth had a few reasons for suffering to add to Jason's, but one in particular stuck out to me.

2 Corinthians 1:4 says "[the Father] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." As Beth put it, we need to "make use of our miseries by allowing God to turn them into ministries". I can remember the first time that God helped me use a painful experience to relate to and comfort someone else. When I realized how God had used my pain to help someone else through their pain, I felt peace about that painful experience because I'd just identified one purpose behind that difficult time.

I'm grateful to have friends, family and a church family that share my suffering as well as my comfort. But I know that even if my friends and family weren't there with me, Jesus has suffered far more than I ever will, and He's the only one who can say "I know how you feel" and really mean it. There's always comfort in knowing you're not alone!

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