When I am going through a particular struggle in my life, I often comfort myself by remembering that my pain is going to grow me and even be beneficial to me, somehow. It’s a good and true source of comfort, and I have written about it before on this blog. Pain has grown me in ways that have been hard, but invaluable. I would not wish that growth away, even though it came at a high price.
Yet, something I often forget is that the pain, struggles and setbacks we experience are not all about us. Quite often there is something in a struggle that we experience that actually turns out to benefit someone else.
Recently someone I know told me about an opportunity that their family lost years ago, an opportunity that was related to dreams that members of that family had cherished for a very long time. Strangely enough, it is only because that opportunity was lost that I ever met these friends in the first place. More than that, meeting this family was the deciding factor that opened up some opportunities that were extremely important to my family. The rest of my life has been shaped by those opportunities that were afforded to my family.
We can never know how a difficulty we are facing may be setting us up to be in the right place at the right time to help someone else. Equally, we may never realize how our own loss of an opportunity is a blessing to someone who needs it more than we do. There are endless ways that our pain might benefit someone else. Human imagination could never list all of them.
One of the most difficult ways that my pain can benefit other people is when it creates a need in my life that leads me to ask for someone else’s help. I refer to this particular way that our pain can be of service to other people as “difficult” because it’s not as easy to perceive its usefulness, and because, as someone who likes being independent, I find it to be difficult to accept. Yet, wise people have pointed out to me that human beings were made to grow through the experience of being able to help other human beings.
I have found that one of the most precious ways that the suffering that I endure can be a blessing to others is through the process of “sharing” comfort. When I go through something difficult, I end up receiving comfort that I eventually end up having opportunity to share with other sufferers. I’ve experienced various forms of comfort throughout my journey. Ultimately, the comfort that has blessed me the most has been my faith, faith in a God who is with me all the time to listen to me and use all of the hard things that happen to me for very good purposes. My faith teaches these very things that I have just said, and that God comforts those who love him when they are afflicted so that they, “May be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort they have received from God.” (If you would like to read more concerning these matters, please refer to the “about” page of this blog.)
It can feel very foreign to think about how what we are suffering might actually be good for someone else. Oftentimes, I wonder if this is because the ways our trials may benefit another person are completely invisible to us. I think it is important to remember that invisible does not equal nonexistent.
Considering these things won’t make our pain easy. All of our questions are not suddenly answered. Yet, perhaps we can gain a little bit of perspective. Sometimes a little bit of perspective is worth a lot.