Monday, December 26, 2011

THE MINISTRY OF CONSOLATION

The apostle Paul said, “[The Lord] comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

One of the neediest ministries in the church of Jesus Christ today is that of consolation—comforting others in their trouble and affliction. Many believers simply do not know where to turn in their hurt.

When I am really hurting, suffering deeply, I do not want to read a book outlining ten steps on how to find victory or go to a big-name evangelist who will zap me. None of these is the answer—because none will reach the root of my suffering! No—I want to talk to some ordinary saint who has suffered heavily, and yet has come through it all praising God, comforted and full of faith!

It is suffering people who receive the consolations and comforts of the Lord. They know the sympathy of Jesus, because His voice speaks true comfort to them in their hour of darkness. These sufferers become rich in spiritual resources. They develop a confidence born out of having endured tribulations and testing. Best of all, God gives them influence they could not have attained in any other way!

I think of Corrie Ten Boom and the wonderful experience it was for the thousands of people who sat and listened to her talk about Jesus. Many pastors and leaders all over the United States were comforted and encouraged by this once-unknown woman—because all her suffering had produced a wealth of knowledge of the Lord. She had an abundance of consolation and comfort from the Holy Spirit—and she used it as an influence for Jesus!

Paul was able to rejoice in all his tribulations because he knew his sufferings were for others’ benefit. He saw his trials as a kind of schooling he was going through. He could say, “God has a purpose in this because He is training me! There will be people who are going to need the comfort and consolation that I have received in my suffering!”

It is no wonder Paul referred to his heavenly Father as, “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).