Reading 2 Corithians this week, I was really struck by the opening section.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)
I recently came out of a pretty rough season of life. I'll spare you the details and just say it was unpleasant. By the end of the first half of this year I was not in a good place- physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. By the grace of God and with the help of wonderful Christian friends I have been getting better. I am so much healthier on every level than I was.
A temptation when coming out the other side of hard times is to be a bit focused on yourself- how I'm healing, what God is doing in my life, how I still want things to change. It certainly is good to notice and be thankful for how God is helping us. What Paul brings to our attention in this passage though is that God does not just comfort us just for our own sake. He comforts us so we can extend the comfort to others. I find that a real challenge to not just be thinking about myself but to be thinking about how what I have experienced can be extended to help others who need it.