Headed to church, your heart weighs heavy. The emotional hurt you’re experiencing burdens you, resulting in an actual, physical pain inside your chest and stomach. It’s frustrating how emotions can grab hold of your physical body so easily.
As you walk inside the entryway, you spot a few different people who you know would listen to your struggles. They would scrunch their eyebrows together, shake their heads in disbelief and let out a sigh of sorrow on your behalf. They would understand and comfort, even if they didn’t have the right words to say.
But as you walk up to these people, you think about what they just went through last month. You think of how strong they appeared in the face of suffering. You realize if you share what you’re going through, it would pale in comparison to their trials. Because your hurt is, well, ordinary.
And so you put on a smile and answer, “Fine, thanks. And how are you?” Instead of sharing your hurt and leaning on your family of Christ followers, you hide behind the belief that your hurt isn’t bad enough to share. Their hurt was worse than yours, and therefore you don’t have the right to feel burdened, let alone ask for help.
The pain scale
We have become so good at the comparing game that we no longer care how we damage ourselves. Or maybe we don’t notice. Comparing can start with looking at our lives and thinking how that person on Facebook has it much more together than we do. But it can easily morph into the comparison of who is hurting more.
Not that we want to hurt more than our friend. This kind of comparison is the one where we deny ourselves the right to need someone, and we cringe at the possibility of appearing not as strong as desired. We fool ourselves into thinking there is a scale for how much pain you experience before it’s legitimate.
Because of this, we ride the waves of hurt on our own, not wanting to bother anyone or seem like a wimp. We tell ourselves to rub some dirt in it and get over the pain. What we don’t realize is the growth we’re stealing from ourselves and our loved ones by hiding behind our smile.
Not troubling enough
It goes without saying that this sinful world can throw horrible situations at a person. Even though we know who wins in the end, that knowledge doesn’t take away the pain we all feel thousands of different times during our lives. But with each moment of pain, there can be an equal moment of praise.
We are commanded to count it all joy, knowing that ultimately our faith will mature as a result of our trials. As our faith grows in maturity, God is glorified. Counting everything as a joy doesn’t mean we keep it to ourselves. We need to share our lives with others in order to praise God for who He is and how He works in us.
By not sharing our sufferings with others because we think it’s too ordinary, we steal an opportunity to glorify our Savior. We act as if God can’t use any situation. And we also rob the other person of a chance to pray for us and praise God along with us when He brings us through to the other side of our hurt.
While we don’t need to share every detail of our lives with everyone, we need to stop holding hurt inside because we’re afraid of the results of voicing it. We can’t say our pain doesn’t mean as much as our friend’s pain, because God can glorify His name regardless of the situation. Nothing is of too little importance for Him to use. We aren’t the judge of that.
Another main reason we can feel open to sharing about our sufferings is that we embody the characteristics of God. And one of God’s characteristics is comforter. Paul even called Him the God of all comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3. Paul goes on to explain how God comforts us in order for us to comfort others in any trouble. Notice he didn’t say comfort others only in the really dramatic situations. He said any trouble.
When we assume our troubles aren’t troubling enough to share, we take that moment of exemplifying Christ away from our loved ones. And we lose an opportunity to learn about comfort, so when it’s our turn to comfort someone, we don’t have as much first-hand knowledge on how to do so.
Sharing in the comforts of Christ does not give us an excuse to complain about why we are hurting. It’s not a license to overwhelm our friends with all the details of our pain every time we see them.
What it does give us is a way to have confidence that our hurts are not less than someone else’s. Our pain is not on a scale across from our friends’ pain. Our trials are a way to not only grow in faith and glorify God, but also give others an opportunity to praise Him who uses all things for His glory.
Let’s Talk About It: How can you share in Christ’s comfort instead of comparing your pain?