Living in a world affected by sin is painful. Broken relationships, poverty, disappointing circumstances and health problems will affect all of us at some point in our lives. How do we deal with difficult experiences like these? God’s answer is counterintuitive.
Acts 20:35 concludes a story of great difficulty. The Book of Acts records everything the apostles of Jesus did after He ascended to heaven. Some were imprisoned. Others were stoned. Many were constantly fleeing the authorities and some were even put to death. But in these harrowing circumstances, we read Acts 20:35:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Despite their circumstances, the apostles made service a priority. I don’t think this is a coincidence! Serving others—loving the broken—actually helps us cope with the difficulties we experience. Here’s how.
Service Takes Us Outside Ourselves
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10)
When in pain, we tend to centralize our focus on our circumstances. But when we serve others, our focus shifts from our own pain to theirs. We become more concerned about helping them walk through their experiences than dwelling on our own difficulties.
As Peter noted in the verse above, each of us has received a gift from God. Our talents and strengths aren’t given to us just for our own sake—they are meant for service! As we exercise these strengths on behalf of the broken, our gaze shifts from our own heart to the hurting hearts of those around us.
Pain Helps Us Empathize With Others
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:19)
When Jesus was crucified, He experienced the full spectrum of pain: emotional, physical and spiritual. But because Jesus experienced pain to the fullest, He is our perfect Advocate in every circumstance (Hebrews 4:14-16). Pain helps us empathize with the experiences of others.
You might not see the end of your trial now, but this experience is equipping you for ministry. Your pain will help you better love the broken and support those who one day face what you are facing. With this in mind, your own experience overflows with purpose. God will redeem your trial as you step into the pain of others to help them heal.
Community Promotes Healing
Finally, true community is founded on love for others. When we stop focusing on our own pain long enough to look at the pain of others, we are surprised to find healing along the way. I believe this is because God delights to meet us in ministry. He works in us as we work on behalf of others.
How will you serve others in this season of life? How has your own past experience equipped you to help others through their pain? Share below!