“Our attitude and behaviour”
There have been occasions during my Christian ministry where I have been saddened by people’s attitudes and behaviour during times of loss, illness or some other suffering. Thankfully, there have been many occasions when I have been comforted and encouraged in my Christian walk as people have dealt with suffering in their lives in a God glorifying way. They may not have realized they were comforting and encouraging me at the time, but they were, simply by their attitude towards God and their behaviour and prayers.
Unfortunately, some Christians think that the struggles and suffering they experience in their Christian lives is only for their personal sanctification. Of course it is true that God does send us trials and sufferings to test, encourage and purify us, but there is also an added dimension that we sometimes fail to remember. The way we deal with those sufferings and afflictions and our attitude in the midst of them as well as our prayers can be of great comfort to fellow Christians.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Paul reminds his readers that he had experienced God’s comfort on many occasions when his ministry for the gospel was challenged. As we know, Paul suffered a great deal for the gospel. Yet, Paul can speak about experiencing God’s comfort through all of them, which in turn allowed him to comfort others. Paul conveyed that comfort through the way the Corinthians observed his behaviour and attitude while undergoing his sufferings for the gospel and through his prayers.
Whatever we experience in life from God’s hand, whether it be affliction, a time of suffering, persecution for our faith, we can be assured that not only is the God of all comfort with us, these things are not intended to be just about ‘poor me.’ On the contrary, they are given to us so that we can comfort fellow believers by our behaviour and attitudes during those times and by our prayers. In fact God’s comfort circulates among His children and sometimes even comes full circle.
I would suggest that our attitude and prayers during times of affliction and suffering for the gospel says a lot about our understanding of the gospel. If our focus is only on ‘poor me’ and what a ‘bad hand’ the Lord has dealt us, then we are possibly missing a great opportunity to be a witness for Christ to our loved ones, fellow Christians and the wider community.
Thankfully, the Saviour not only remained concerned about His Father’s glory throughout His ministry, He remained ‘other-people’ centered, even caring for His mother and praying for His captors while hanging on the cross. I don’t know what the Lord is going to lay on our path this year. However, may we as Christians give careful thought to how we respond to any situation, good or not so good, for you can be assured that someone is watching and listening. JZ.