Summary: God allows us to suffer trials so that we are forced to trust in Him and so that we can console others.
There was a certain time in my life not long ago which, to me, was a terrible trial. There were more days of sorrow than joy; there was constant oppression. It was more than just bad circumstances; it was the most real spiritual warfare I’d ever known. The weight that smothered me and the cloud that surrounded me made it almost impossible to even function. But it was at this time that God began to show me the real meaning of “daily bread.” It was through this season that I understood with firsthand knowledge what it means to lie awake upon my bed meditating on His precepts. It was during this time that “be still and know” was not some goal to be achieved but it was the only possible source of comfort and the only thing that could be done.
Today I want to talk to you about this comfort. I want to talk to you about trials and pain and suffering and I hope that by the time we’re finished that you’ll be content with me to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” To begin let’s turn to First Corinthians 1:3-10.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
The part of this verse which is most commonly known is “the God of all comfort.” And it’s well known for a good reason. The word for comfort means to call someone for help. It’s not just that God pats us on the back and tells us everything will be ok:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. 6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore (Ps. 121:1-8).
But don’t miss the words right before it: “the Father of mercies.” I believe Paul puts mercy and comfort in the same sentence because often mercy is the comfort. We all hope for comfort in outside trials, but what about when we deserve our trials? What about when all the things that happen to us should be happening because we’re so selfish or arrogant or rebellious? What did David learn?
The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. 65Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. 66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. 67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes (Ps. 119:64-68).
But why does God allow us to suffer trials at all? There are two reasons. The first is so we can comfort others:
4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
You see, here’s the thing: all those days of waiting on daily bread have helped me see that it does come right on time, every time. This isn’t just something I read in a book once. I know it from firsthand experience. And now I’m able to take that experience and use it for your benefit.
“Will God provide?”
“Yes. God will provide.”
The comfort that was given to me is shared with those who need it now. And soon your trial will be over and God will place someone in front of you who needs reassurance that neither the sun nor the moon will smite them because the Lord which keeps us neither slumbers nor sleeps. And you’ll know this is true and you’ll be able to say, “He hasn’t failed me yet. His mercy is unending and His comfort is unfailing.”
“But my trial is so big. I just don’t see how this can work out.”