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A young man was in a hospital and felt very dejected. His one leg had to be amputated. A visitor tried to comfort him, but the young man said: “How can you know how I feel?” Thereupon the visitor rolled up one of his trouser legs. He had an artificial leg. The visitor then said: “I know what you endure, I was there myself.”

The Bible doesn’t present the children of God as people who will never experience any problems. Paul was the greatest missionary, but he and Silas were falsely accused at a stage when they spread the gospel in Philippi: After a severe beating, they were thrown into jail, and the jailer was ordered to lock them up tight. Upon receiving this order, the jailer threw them into the inner cell and fastened their feet between heavy blocks of wood. If in those times it was said that someone was severely beaten, it meant precisely that. But Paul and Silas didn’t ask “where is God?” They did the opposite: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God (Acts 16:23 – 25).

            Paul writes: Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God (2 Cor. 1:3 -4). We can praise God in all circumstances, however great our troubles, even though we may not find a solution soon, or ever, for our problems. With God we’ll find comfort. He is our God, the Father of mercy and the God of all solace. Our suffering can also have a purpose: so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of trouble. A person who has suffered, has an advantage when he needs to comfort someone. For instance, if a person’s leg has been amputated, he can help someone else with the same problem and his comfort will come across as more genuine. If someone’s child has died, he can comfort others who suffer similar pain. He can say: “I know what you endure, I have been there myself.” In that way we can encourage one another using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. We can listen to Paul’s advice when we suffer, for he can also say: “I know what you endure, I was there.”

Ages before Jesus’ coming there were prophesies about Him: But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received (Is. 53:5). Nobody has ever suffered so intensely. His most intense suffering was not bodily, but due to the God-forsakenness He had to endure to pay for mankind’s sin. If we suffer, we must always remember that Jesus knows suffering. He was there!

Lord Jesus, we thank you that we can know that You know suffering and that You can therefore comfort us. Amen.

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