As I paint in my artist studio I try to listen to uplifting music or messages from preachers and speakers I respect and from whom I am eager to learn. Today, while I was working on a painting of a wedding portrait with a stained glass background, I took in a session of Beth Moore‘s Jesus the One and Only that was filmed in Israel. Beth’s messages resonate with me because of her knowledge, the way she connects in a personal way with her audience, her humble nature and sense of humor. She is a terrific communicator but does not water down the message to try to make it popular. But popular, she is – and for good reason.
Today Beth talked about losing a following with an important person in her life because she wasn’t as funny as she used to be and did not shrink back from tough issues. Life is difficult and a lot of people are hurting. I caught myself saying “amen” out loud several times as the video rolled on.
We live in a culture that loves to be entertained and we financially reward those who help us escape mentally for awhile be it through sports, films, or with popular music. Nothing wrong with those things, but those who are hurting still need someone real with a sensitive ear to listen, some hope from the reality of faith in Christ and encouragement from the Scriptures.
God equips normal every day people for this task of listening, hope-giving and encouragement and His school for such ministry is called The Academy of Suffering and Sorrow. Wouldn’t you know it, no one intentionally signs up for one of those classes. But once they are in the academy something wonderful can happen. The suffering and sorrow is not the wonderful part. But those who have been trained by such are able to lend a hand, an ear and a heart to a hurting world and let others know that God is going to get them through this difficult time. These academy graduates know because God was faithful to them in their time of need. Their resolve was strengthened, their belief became more than intellectual and their faith made real. Now their outlook is deeper and they can handle bigger punches from life, their attitude brighter and they are full of hope. God can mould us by His “thundering velvet hand” and make us sweeter for the encounter.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. II Corinthians 1:3-4