By Lisa Huddleston
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
This week I read a book that had a profound impact on me. To Be Told (WaterBrook Press 2005) was written by Dan Allender to help readers hear God’s calling in the tragedies of their own lives that need “to be told” in order to minister to others who are caught in similar experiences. Allender’s premise is that God is the Author of our story, but we are to join him in the co-writing by allowing him to use every part of our story for his glory and to bring others to redemption. We are “to reveal God through the themes he has woven into our character” and to allow those themes to lead us to “a population, a place, a problem, and a process” in which we can say “Yes” to our calling.
As I read examples of the tragedies that others experienced, I was reminded of my own—we all have them. Times when I felt abandoned or rejected. The many times I was the new kid in school. The times I faced bullies. The times I felt alone. It is clear that these experiences shaped me by leading me to introspection and books and giving me a passion for the underdog. God wrote my story in the very experiences that still cause me the most pain, and these are the themes that allow me to be his instrument of grace to others now.
But only if I let them. If I keep my pain to myself, nursing it and rocking it like a worn out doll, then it benefits no one. Not me and not others. It is only when I let go and open myself up that I can hear his call. Then my pain makes room for the matching ache in those God sends my way. He has prepared a way for me and for you to serve and be served, and it is a way prepared through suffering—a beating down of the high places and a raising up of the low.
Oddly, I can recall an awareness of this truth even as I was a child. A sense of there being more to my struggle than I could put my finger on. I could not believe that I was meant to suffer in vain—and I still believe that but in an even deeper way today. God is faithful to see us through. In my case, the tragedies were not horrific as some accounts in Allender’s book, but they did give me a more piercing empathy for those whose suffering is greater than my own. They built into me the themes that direct my path today. Themes that point my way to a person, a place, a problem and even the ways in which I will be able to reach out. And for that I am thankful.
What are the themes God has written into your life? Do you hear the voice of his call in them? If so, redemption is waiting–in the stories of your life and in the lives of those with whom you are willing to share them. Be comforted in order to comfort. We are blessed to be a blessing. Do you have a story that needs to be told?