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I grew up as a military brat and later my dad was a missionary to the military. When I was growing up, I was never exposed much to suffering. When we lived overseas, if someone got too sick, they shipped them back to the States, or (when we were stationed in the U.S.) to a bigger military hospital somewhere else in the U.S. So I just had never been around sick or suffering or elderly people. In fact, I'd never even been to a funeral until I was a sophomore in college!

Because of this, when I entered the ministry, I had a very hard time dealing with hospital visitation. I couldn't relate to people's suffering and pain. But after having cancer, going through a difficult surgery, spending two weeks in the hospital and experiencing a long and painful recovery, I could relate to sick people in a way I never could before. In fact, now I enjoy hospital visitation because now I know what to say and I can feel for those there because I've BEEN there and I've EXPERIENCED what they are experiencing. God fitted me for greater service through suffering.

This is what Paul had in mind when he said in 2 Corinthians 1:4 -- "Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God."

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