Don't Waste It
In 2 Corinthians 1:3, Paul calls God "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." Paul knew God as a merciful comforter because he suffered as a Christian. It's part of his credentials. He suffered externally from the world, who persecuted him. And he suffered internally from Christians, who misjudged his motivation. He's sort of hinting at that in verses 3 through 7.
And what I'd like to say to anybody going through a trial is this. Don't waste your suffering. When you go through a trial, don't look at it as just a dumb accident, but as a divine appointment.
When I say don't waste it, I mean analyze it, learn from it, and ask yourself, "How can what I'm going through help other people who will go through this later on?" I'm convinced that one of the reasons you experience trials is for this very reason, so that you can be a comfort to others. Verse 4 says, "that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
You know, it's amazing that with all the things that Paul suffered, he could still say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Somebody once said that your spiritual maturity can be measured by what it takes to steal your joy. Think about that. Have you ever met a Christian who, no matter what they're going through, just seems to be above it all a little bit? "I know life is hard, I know this trial is horrible, but God is so good!" They always seem to have a lightness in their step, and they see that there's a greater purpose for what happens. Sometimes it's sort of hard to be around those people. They're so convicting because they're filled with joy! That's a mark of maturity.
I don't know what you're going through in your life. But in the midst of it, I wonder if you can say, like Paul, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." No matter what happens in your world, there's always enough bad stuff going on that you can focus on it.
But I want you to focus on that portion of scripture in 2 Corinthians, and as you do, remember that you can offer God's comfort to others because you've received it yourself. Others need to know how you handle your suffering. As Jesus said, "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:36).