Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are inter relational and others are inside ourselves. They are personal and strike at the core of our identity. They may come as a result of disputes, disagreements, or a variety of wrongful actions. Some afflictions are petty in nature; whereas other conflicts are costly, dramatic, and take a while to resolve.
In our affliction, we may feel put down, oppressed, troubled, weakened, downcast, and humbled.
Whatever the case, there we are; something must be done to find comfort during the trial.
The psalmist gives us a key to finding comfort in our affliction: God's Word (Psalm 119:50).
It was God's Word that revived him from sickness, discouragement, faintness, and even death. God's Word refers literally to the very Scripture we have in our hands as well as God's promises, sayings, and commands.
But what does this mean? How does this work?
Finding lasting comfort when we are afflicted means we must pick up our Bibles and read. But where do we start?
First, identify your trial.
Try the who, what, when, where, why, how method to help you thoroughly detail the scenario. Then determine the emotions that you are experiencing as a result. Is it fear? Unbelief? Anger? Sadness? Rejection?
Second, confess any areas in your own thought life that are ungodly.
Avoid cognitive dissonance as you talk with God. For example, don't declare "Your Word says not to fear. I will not fear. I will not fear. I will not fear....." when really you are scared "spit-less" as R.C. Sproul would say. Be honest about how you feel. God can help you with your unbelief, also.
Then find one Scripture that resonates with you, that profoundly speaks to your soul in this trial. Cling to it. Write it down. Pray it. Post it on a sticky note near your desk, in your car. Meditate on that truth when you find yourself burdened again by the trial.
God's Word will bring you life.
You will find yourself refreshed and restored and ultimately comforted. The more you seek this type of lasting comfort, the more you will want to seek it. [Chocolate notwithstanding.]
Third, in your trial, find a way to be grateful.
Once I was released from a full time teaching job along with about 15 other full-time faculty members across several disciplines. Among other considerations, Spanish courses were eliminated as a general education requirement for most students, so class enrollment plummeted. My full-time efforts were no longer needed as the college would offer only one or two Spanish classes for the year.
It has taken me years now to find comfort--mainly because along the way I sought the pseudo-comfort that self-pity lavished upon me. My thoughts were firmly rooted in rejection and bitterness.
Gradually, I learned to reject this toxic thinking and to find comfort in God's Truth by remembering that I work in God's vineyard where there is abundance and that I am yoked to Christ in my work. I trust that God will lead me to the jobs I need to have and at just the right time. God has my back.
I feel so grateful for what I learned the four years I taught there. It was such an exhilarating and fun time. I loved working on committees, collaborating, planing, organizing. I acquired so many new skills and was able to develop significantly professionally. Plus I met colleagues who are friends for life. That experience paved the way for much personal and professional growth for me--I analyzed any missteps on my part and developed a better work environment strategy for future jobs. It was a win-win experience. What a true blessing to have worked there!
I learned to re-frame the experience as gain, not loss.
Finally, it mustn't stop there. We need to comfort someone else who is aching.
The Apostle Paul charged the Corinthians to comfort others in their affliction (2 Cor. 1:4). In other words, when we are comforted by God in our afflictions, we need to pass the comfort on. Finding comfort involves relationships. First with God and then with others.
Folks are hurting out there. It's a harsh world. Can you comfort someone today?
I am filled with comfort;
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