It’s been a few weeks since I posted here and apologize for my absence. I started a new position on the college campus I work at, and it’s kept me very busy with limited time for my writing. However, I am blessed that God would allow me to learn so many new things at my age and, through His grace, would support me in the many challenges I’ve encountered there. Below is a short devotional I wrote as I thought about how God comforts us in so many ways so that we can comfort others. I hope it’s an encouragement, challenge, and joy for you.
The God of All Comfort
“the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” 2 Corinthians 1:3b-4
They are all around us, yet they’re invisible. They can have minimal effects or they can be life-altering. Your neighbor, co-worker, or friend may have one or more, and you may not know it.
I am referring to chronic or “invisible” illness. In 2005, 133 million Americans had at least one chronic illness. All four members of our family live with chronic, sometimes debilitating, disease. We can look healthy on the outside, but be struggling on the inside. The chronic nature of a disease can also be “wearing” over time and can cause people suffering with the diseases to become self-centered, as they must put their energy into maintaining their physical stamina.
Our family found that the best way to avoid wallowing in our chronic illness was to reach out to someone who needs encouragement, practical medical advice, or prayer. This occurred within our immediate family, as I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at age 27, and subsequently, our son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age seven, and our daughter at age 20. Although devastated that our children had this disease, I was grateful to God that I was able to comfort and educate my children. God does not waste anything.
In the passage above, the apostle Paul gives thanks to God who had comforted the apostles in all their tribulations. They met with many trials, but they found consolation in Christ and gave him the glory for that solace. Paul added that the apostles should comfort others in their suffering by sharing their experiences of God’s compassion in the face of these trials, including how God taught them to endure with faith and patience.
It’s tempting to dwell on what has been lost as a result of having a chronic illness, but Christ calls us to first receive His comfort, and then to extend that comfort to others who are struggling, using the gifts He has given us. Whether you have a chronic illness or not, when you encounter someone who does, surprise them by being God’s hand of comfort. It just might be what they need to get through another day.