“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Hcsb)
Dear friend in CHRIST, do not regret all your past painful experiences. They have made you a better person.
Pains convert to praise with the right perspective.
If you stop and think, you will realize that you are now more sensitive, understanding and compassionate.
More than before, you can now sympathize with those who are facing challenges that are somewhat similar to those you have experienced. Because you have been down that street before.
Be that as it may: but GOD’s ideal for us is that we should help others pass through the things HE helped us pass through.
God wants us to go beyond sympathy to empathy.
The Bible in Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus Christ our High priest is able to empathize with us because he passed through our experiences in every way.
Because of your experiences you have the ability to empathize also with those who are struggling through what you have passed through.
GOD wills that even though you sympathize with people’s sufferings, you have to reach out to them in love also .
He wants you to walk them through the process.
Because sympathy and empathy are so close in meaning, it’s so easy to confuse them.
Sympathy involves feeling pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune even if you have never had it happen to you.
Empathy is the ability to understand as well as share the feelings of another person.
Empathy is like wearing a person’s shoes and feeling the pain where it pinches.
When you are empathetic towards others, you help them better.
GOD desires that you comfort the afflicted and not condemn them.
But rather unfortunately though we may feel pity for others, we are often so quick to judge and condemn them.
But when you empathize with others, you will comfort and proffer solutions instead of being judgemental and condemning.
It is to GOD’s glory that because of all I have suffered in life, I now have online ministries through which we comfort the afflicted.
But it was not always so.
I had made lots of mistakes in life and suffered untold hardship because of them.
I lost lots of things including my self-esteem: I withdrew into myself, and could not really communicate effectively with others.
But GOD comforted and healed me. He did not condenm me. Several times when I despised and abhorred myself, I heard His loving voice say to me :
” Hephzibah, I love you my princess: there is no charge against you: I don’t condenm you”.
Those words changed my perspective and built my self esteem.
And it’s now my life’s work to comfort others with the comfort I received from GOD.
Comforting others with the comfort that I received is an act of worship. It is an acceptable service/offering to GOD my Comforter.
Most of what I suffered could have been avoided if other Christians had intervened with Godly counsel.
But no! Instead, they ‘Gossiped’ about me- behind my back of course! And I was left to learn tough lessons from the school of hard knocks.
I fell into deep pits of depression several times but GOD’s grace brought me out.
I learned from experience and as we know, experience is a bitter teacher!
I got bitter, lonely and strongly desired to not repeat my mistakes.
But it was so time consuming and difficult to learn from mistakes: because most times, mistakes had to be repeated severally before the lessons even sunk in.
A little guidance or pointing in the right direction from another Christian would have helped me confront issues pragmatically.
That is saying that if those who had treaded the path I was taking had just given me a heads up, I would have made more progress.
But then, they did not: instead they judged and condemned me.
The Church fathers of my time failed me- they were so legalistic and considered me a non-conformist and their religious bigotry drove me further into rebellion.
My peers, friends and family failed as well – they all judged me by societal norms, traditions and their opinion of what was right/wrong.
They all saw the problem but none proffered a solution.
They only saw what I was doing wrong but they never showed me how to stop!
No counsel whatsoever!
Instead, they all stood on their high horses and labelled me rebellious!
I lost my mother as a teenager and took on adult responsibilities while still a child myself; caring for my younger siblings.
By 19, I was already an unwed mother, even as a ‘born again’ child of GOD!
If only someone had cared enough to point out the pitfalls on the road I was going!
I was distraught! I didn’t like me, but I did not know what to do about me!
But GOD showed up for me.
HE helped me through HIS Word – HE illuminated them for me as I searched the scriptures.
And later, as I sought Him deeper, God connected me with those who had been down my road.
Gradually I began to find my way out of the labyrinth of confusion that my life was.
Take a minute to think.
Are you a ‘comforter‘ or a ‘condemmer’?
Are you a ‘Gossipper‘ or a ‘Gospeller’?
Do you give the afflicted the Good News of Jesus Christ, or do you spread unsavory tales about them?
There are lots of teenagers, homeless unwed mothers and troubled people around you.
Have you represented the love of CHRIST to them by taking an interest in their lives?
What about the elderly and the bereaved, and those families that are having issues with their young and adult children?
Have you been there – hungry, homeless, jobless, sick: abandoned by friends and family?
I rejoice with you. I was there and know what it feels like.
Don’t let your experiences go to waste. Worship God with it. Offer it to God as a sacrifice of Thanksgiving by reaching out to others facing similar challenges.
That is the reason I do what I do.
I give support and point people to a deeper relationship with Christ Jesus.
Please, for CHRIST sake, reach out to those who are now where you were before God’s grace pulled you out!
Tell them how you overcame!
Point them to the way out.
Encourage and build up their faith.
Share your testimonies.
Until they understand your pain they can’t praise with you.
Evil prevail when good people do nothing!
The Christian life is a life of confrontation. Christians don’t chicken out. The Christian is brave, and as bold as lion.
Because we have faith in God, we are fearless.
That is the reason we can prayerfully confront issues in the life of others as well by pointing them to the solution in Christ Jesus.
Christianity is a life of selflessness.
CHRIST went about doing good: so should we. For as HE is, so are we now in this world.
We cannot afford to be an idle bystander!
To be effective in reaching our world for Christ, we must sympathize and empathize.
We are to establish the Kingdom of GOD in our world.
And doing that involves reaching out to people with the love of GOD; whether they are gays (single or married), or have had sex-change or whatever.
Hate the sin but love the sinner.
Christ demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, He died for us.
It is not our business to see who they are ( Gay, addicts, exconvicts etc): but who they can become in Christ ( transformed, healed, restored etc.).
Christianity is a relationship with GOD and others through a daily faith-walk with CHRIST.
Our love for God is revealed in the way we treat others.
How can you say you love God who you don’t see and yet hate your neighbors who you see daily?
As a Christian, you have to communicate and relate with GOD and with others as well.
You cannot isolate yourself from others nor can you lick your wounds in secret or hide yourself from the suffering of others.
The Christian interferes, intervenes, and intercedes on the behalf of suffering humanity.
You go where even angels fear to tread!
You poke your nose into people’s business! It’s all in a day’s work for you! It is a high calling.
It is also an act of deep gratitude to GOD when you reach out to others because of what CHRIST did for you and yours.
Be challenged/motivated today my friend to reach out to others with the comfort that CHRIST hath comforted you with.
Be bold. Be brave: because the Greater-one, CHRIST JESUS lives in you.
Be a COMFORTER and not a CONDEMNER.
Only then can you have life in all its fullness. Shalom!
Let us Pray :
ABBA Father, thank you for your loving kindness and tender mercies that are new every morning, else we would have exhausted them.
We present our lives before you today and commit to living it for your glory.
We are thankful for all our past painful and pleasant experiences. They have brought out your glory in us.
We ask that you help us to be more empathetic toward others.
Push us out of our tepid state to be more outgoing and to burn with the fire of revival.
We pray for the homeless people: use us to provide shelter for them.
Some of us have empty rooms in our homes that are wasting. Forgive us for wasting Kingdom resources.
We surrender our homes to you for we are only stewards.
Point us to how best to use our homes to expand the Kingdom.
We lift up the distressed single /unwed moms to You. Use us God to comfort and establish them in righteousness.
We ask oh God to be used greatly to support the elderly, the bereaved and to feed the hungry: clothe the naked and to visit those in prison: to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed and demonized.
We know we can be all things to all men because as You are so are we now in this world.
We receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit to go about doing good as Christ did.
We Affirm that from now we have the unction to function as your Oracles in this world, in the matchless name of Jesus Christ. Amein.