2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and 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. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Do you ever get discouraged? It is all too easy in this day and age. We are bombarded with news stories that focus on the negative. When we're not hearing about someone else's troubles, we are having our own. But, as Reverend Singleton told us this morning, we don't have to let discouragement steal our joy.
The truth is that we all have troubles. The good news is that God is ready to lift you out of them. The scripture above calls God "The God of All Comfort." He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to bring us back to that comfort that we as a people had lost. And Jesus, before he died, promised to send the "comforter" to his disciples (John 14:26). That comforter is the Holy Spirit, and he was sent to dwell in you so that you don't have to be discouraged. You can be encouraged from the inside out!
So why does God allow us to go through these things? First of all, affliction can only come upon us if God allows it or ordains it. So he must have a purpose behind it. We read in James 1:2-4 that our trials produce patience, which makes us mature and complete. People who don't have any trouble in their lives have no need of a comforter, and many times can't see their need for God. But when we have been through some things, and have felt God's comfort in our lives, we are better equipped to comfort others who are going through the same things.
As Reverend Singleton pointed out this morning, "God didn't comfort you so you could be comfortable, but so you could comfort others." I like that. We have a purpose in this life, and so do our troubles. They are building us up to be stronger. They are teaching us how to comfort others, with the comfort that we have received from God himself. They allow us to be the hand of God extended.
So when you are going through "things," remember that God is with you. In Deuteronomy 31:6, he promises: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Allow him to comfort you through fellow Christians, and through reading and hearing his word. Open the Bible and allow God to speak through it, directly to you. And when you come out on the other side, use your newfound peace to comfort those around you.