"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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" (II Corinthians 1:3-6).
Difficulty naturally presses us toward a focus on ourselves. "Why is this happening to me, and how am I going to solve my problem?" Conversely, the Holy Spirit supernaturally works in born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to view tribulation as the basis for ministry to others. "Who will be blessed because I am going through this challenge, and discovering God to be our comfort and capacity to endure?"
The Bible challenges us to think about our lives in radically different terms than our human inclinations suggest. Love is the issue, that is, the love of God "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). Believers no longer exist for ourselves because love "seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5). We must therefore interpret both the blessings and the buffeting of life as God's working in us to enable ministry to others whereby the Lord Jesus Christ shines forth as the supply to every need. "It is for your consolation and salvation" affirmed the Apostle Paul. We must join him in the reorientation of our thinking from carnal self-centeredness to spiritual devotion to the glory of God and the needs of others.
Whatever may be distressing us in the present moment becomes a different reality altogether if it be true that God has determined or allowed our challenge to make possible ministry to others. It is true, and we properly interpret and confront trouble only when we view it in the context of our Lord's love revealed in us. He wastes nothing in our lives, and great joy awaits us as we realize that His way is now our way. "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Love is the issue, the love of Christ first revealed to us, but now revealed in and through us.
"For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you."
(II Corinthians 4:11-12)