One of the great things about being a Christian is the blessings that God pours out in our lives. And one of those blessings is the comfort that he gives us as we go through trials.
But it’s so easy for us as Christians to simply become sponges. We simply soak in the love of God and the comfort that he provides in our lives. But while we do need those times of soaking in his love and comfort, God does not want us to merely be sponges. Rather, he desires that we be channels of his blessing to those around us.
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 have received from God. (3-4)
Note that one of the main reasons God comforts us is so that we can take the comfort we have received and pass it on to the people who are hurting around us.
I like how the HCSB puts verse 5.
For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. (5)
Christ’s sufferings, in a sense, overflowed out of his cup and into ours. Not in the sense, of course, that we have to suffer for our own sins. Jesus has already paid our debt completely. But now for his sake, we are sometimes called to suffer. Sometimes we are persecuted. Sometimes we go through trials. But God uses all these things not only to spread his kingdom, but to shape us into the people that he wants us to become. As Peter said,
These [trials] have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (I Peter 1:7)
But as much as his sufferings may spill over into our lives, so much more does his comfort spill over into our lives. Not only that, Jesus overflows our cup with his comfort.
Why not just fill us to the brim? So that his comfort might spill into the lives of those around us who are hurting too.
So often though, people just like to soak in that love and comfort they have received, and never see the needs around them. But if we’ll just take a look around, we’ll be able to see people going through the same things we went through. And God calls us to give them the hope of our experience. To reach out to them and say, “I understand. I’ve been there. God’ll see you through.” And to pour out God’s love and comfort into them.
How about you? Are you merely a sponge, soaking in all you can from God? Or are you also a channel through whom God can pour his out blessings to those around you?