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 receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We all have seasons in our lives when we need a little help. And, given the choice between someone who has already been through my issue versus some spiritual leader who knows nothing about my issue, I’ll take the former every time. If you think about it, it just makes sense. As you are climbing that mountain, you can listen to the guy on the ground below you who has never been up that mountain or you can listen to the guy above you who has just come up that same climb. Who would you choose?
God’s community is set up that way. There are times and circumstances in our lives when we’re the ones who need the help and there are seasons when we make ourselves available to others in a sacrificial way. Often, those seasons even overlap and we find ourselves in both positions simultaneously. In the support group arena, it is always a significant moment in the recovery journey when a person stops focusing inwardly and begins to ask how he/she can turn outward and begin to help others on this same journey.
So what does this all mean for you and for your church? On any given Sunday morning, within your church, you will find two kinds of people: (1) people who are there to be comforted and ministered to, and (2) people who are there to comfort and minister to others. You may have found that you are capable of being in either group, depending on the season in your life. I certainly have found myself in each group at one time or another.
I believe that your balance between the two (i.e., the time spent outwardly focused versus the time spent inwardly focused) is a function of spiritual maturity. For those of us who have had to climb a few mountains, if we have learned anything at all from those experiences and if we have been the recipient of God’s grace and comfort through those times, we should be outwardly focused and helping others who are going through the same “stuff”. We should be. That is the script God wrote.
So, the question is this: when your church gathers this coming Sunday, which group will you be in?