Our theme for this month: “Personal Responsibility”
Our Bible verse for today: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Bless others, even when you yourself are hurting.”
Some years ago I spent four hours with a man (an old friend) who had been going through a difficult season of life. He had some health problems, he lost his job, he had financial problems, his marriage was struggling, and he was pretty miserable. In fact, he was so consumed with his misery that it was all he could think of or talk about. For four hours I sat silent and listened as he recited what seemed liked an endless list of problems, complaints, and criticisms about other people. He talked non-stop and I simply listened.
Although we had known each other for years, my friend never once asked about me or my family. He simply wanted to talk about himself and his problems, and that’s the way he was with everyone pretty much all the time. So it shouldn’t surprise you that people (including his wife) could only take so much of that and then they started to avoid him, which made him even more miserable and even more convinced that nobody understood him or cared what he was going through.
Contrast that with the story of Army General John Kelly (President Trump’s current Chief of Staff). In 2010 General Kelly’s son was killed in combat in Afghanistan. It was a devastating and heartbreaking time for General Kelly and his wife and they did grieve deeply. But they quickly moved beyond their grief and focused their attention instead on ministering to other military families who had also lost a loved one in combat. They made a decision to take their eyes off of themselves and their own grief, and to focus instead on helping others who were dealing with a similar tragedy in their life. They effectively turned their own grief and suffering into a way of caring for and blessing others who were experiencing something similar.
The difference between the man in the first example and General Kelly and his wife is that the first man was completely self-absorbed and focused on himself, while General Kelly and his wife took their eyes off of themselves and their own grief and focused instead on blessing others who were suffering too.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that God will bless and comfort us in our suffering so that we can focus on blessing others. We don’t need to be self-absorbed and focused on ourselves. God will pay attention to what we’re going through and He will help us through it. He wants us to focus less on ourselves and more on others.
We are each responsible for how we handle our suffering. God does not want us to become self-absorbed, thinking only of ourselves. Often the best therapy is to take your eyes off of yourself and focus instead on blessing and caring for others who are suffering too.