Suffering usually doesn’t feel very beneficial – to us or to those around us. It often like a painful hindrance and of very little value to anyone.
But your suffering can actually be helpful to others.
The Apostle Paul teaches us that if you suffer and are comforted by God, you are especially equipped to be able to pass on that comfort to others.
Paul opened his letter to the church in Corinth with the following words: “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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (1 Corinthians 2:3-11).
Paul was very familiar with suffering. Later in the letter to the Corinthians Paul describes some of his ordeals: ”Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
So it is precisely because Paul has suffered in these ways, that he was able to sympathise and encourage others in their trials. No one could ever claim that Paul didn’t know what he was talking about when he encouraged people to find comfort in God.
It is the same for you. If you lean on God while going through the struggle of fighting cancer, for example, you have a unique qualification to minister to fellow cancer sufferers. You can urge them to trust in the Almighty God too.
So when you suffer, don’t ever think that it is a waste of time and energy. God may be preparing you to be of great benefit to someone else later on in life.