John 18:11b "…the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"
"Our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize."
"To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another, save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him."
Both of these quotes are from Mrs. Charles Cowman, author of Streams in the Desert. She and her husband were missionaries in Japan and China. Many of the thoughts she shared in her book were written while she cared for her husband while he was dying. She nursed him for six years.
I think so many of us find her book incredibly insightful and comforting because she wrote from her place of suffering. She was compassionate to those who were hurting, and her legacy continues still today.
For myself, I find that I can immediately and deeply sympathize with a parent who has a sick child.
You see, I know how it feels to have a sick child. I know how to pray for those parents. I know how to help; and I know what to say, and sometimes more importantly, what not to say.
I can also understand and commiserate with those who have underlying or debilitating personal health issues, because I suffer with my own physical problems. I feel much compassion to those who are sick and hurting.
II Corinthians 1:4-7 "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation."
I know that suffering is not pleasant. Sometimes the pain of it seems more than we can bear. However, as we suffer we learn how to comfort others.
Perhaps you have no desire to comfort others, and you feel that your suffering is unfair and will not profit you at all.
To that I can only say that in some Divine way, (and it is often difficult for us to understand), our suffering leads to Heavenly glory.
Romans 8:17b-18 "…if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
God's ways are sometimes hard to understand; but He loved us enough to send His only Son to suffer a cruel, unimaginable death on a cross to pay for our sins. With that kind of love already shown to us, why do we doubt that even our suffering is part of His loving plan for our lives.
When it doesn't make sense to our mortal, human mind,
we must put our faith in the Immortal, Unhuman and Divine Mind of our Heavenly Father.
We must read His Word and believe with all our heart the words of comfort He speaks to us there.
I Peter 4:12-13 "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."