Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Side Effects of Suffering-Sensitized to Suffering by Martin Wiles

Series: The Side Effects of Suffering

Johnny was born with Down Syndrome, but his own suffering didn’t prevent him from being sensitive to other’s needs.

Johnny was 19 and working as a bag boy when his company conducted a customer service training program. Their goal was that customers remember the service as outstanding…beyond the norm…service that stood out. Though merely a bag boy, Johnny invented a plan he thought might work. As a lover of inspirational quotes, he decided he’d deposit one in each customer’s bag and say, “Thanks for shopping with us today. I’ve placed an inspirational thought in your bag that I hope you’ll enjoy.”

And it worked. Imagine the store manager’s surprise when he entered one day to find all the customers in one line when three were open. Once a week customers patronized more frequently just to see Johnny-a 19-year-old bag boy who transformed the store with his sensitivity.

As an early missionary traveling in regions where the gospel wasn’t always received enthusiastically, Paul was accustomed to suffering. But it sensitized him to others who were enduring similar circumstances. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you (II Corinthians 1:6 NLT).

Suffering is a side effect of sin’s presence in our world. Famine, disease, crime, abuse, broken relationships, economic breakdown, homelessness, addictions, loneliness-all symptoms of a sick world. All conditions evidencing people’s need of a Savior. Personal suffering allows us first-hand experience that when entered into properly triggers us to focus less on ourselves and more on others. Christians know the ultimate healer who brings comfort regardless of how severe the suffering is. Let God help you redeem personal suffering by turning your attention to others who are suffering also.

Prayer: God of all comfort, encourage us in our times of suffering so that we might share that consolation and encouragement with others who are suffering as well.

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