“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of (by) God.”2 Corinthians 1:4
The book of Proverbs tells us about the strength of a young man, and the gray head of an older man. The young and old have their own strengths, and I am not sure which stage I am in as I find myself in-between the both of them. I have come to look at both with awe as I see young men pumping out reps in the gym, and I am just trying to not get hurt and stay healthy. I look at the older man with awe as well as I see the wrinkles around the eyes and across the forehead. I see the wrinkles and scars as stories accumulated over a lifetime. I know there is wisdom from those scars and lessons learned along the way as they have faced adverse situations in life. Pain is a hard teacher. We can sometimes avoid hurtful situations, but at other times they are inevitable.
I was working at my boss’ houses back in my painting days, and he was wanting to paint the top of the basement block which the house sat upon. He wanted to change the color of the block as it had been painted over numerous times and the previous layers were peeling and the block looked like a bad rendition of van Gogh’s Starry Night. We went downtown to pick up some costly paint remover, and he wanted me to apply it to the block wall, allow it to dry, and then he wanted me to power wash the previous layers of paint off. We were doing all of this so that we could repaint it a different fresh color, but this job required a lot of prep work. My boss had some previous experience working with this product, but this was my first time working with this specific paint remover. The five gallon metal bucket had toxic warnings all over it, but I somehow missed all of this.
I popped off the lid and the strong smell filled my large nostrils, and I seemed to get a buzz from the contact. My boss gave me no warnings except to tell me to wear gloves when applying the remover. I double gloved my hands and began to apply this remover liberally to the wall. The smell was super strong, but I pressed on with the job. My left hand started to burn but I thought it was a bee or a vicious mosquito. I kept working until I could not take the pain anymore as my hand felt as if it was on fire. I took my gloves off and realized the remover was removing my skin as well as it was burning the brown right off of me. I ran to the water hose and tried to wash it off, but the damage was already done. It took a while for that to heal, and the scars are still faintly seen on my hand. I learned a hard lesson that day, but it would serve others well in the future.
A couple of years later, I was helping with a teen work program in the city and they wanted the kids to paint a building which the city purchased. My job was to keep the kids busy and ensure the 250 gallons of paint made its way on the wall. There were some areas of the building that required this paint removal solution, and my mind immediately went to my left hand which bore the scar of pain from the previous incident. I thought in my mind how crazy the city was for allowing the kids to work with this toxic remover. I gave them instructions on what to do, and I warned them to be very careful. I wrapped their hands with duct tape to get a tight seal with the gloves, but they did not take me seriously until they asked me why I was so careful. I took off my gloves to show them my scars which grossed them out, and I then had no problem convincing them to get their gloves wrapped tightly.
I know of many Christians who have gone through severe trials and tribulations. Widows whose husbands were taken early in life, those who have been hampered by life-altering illnesses and ailments, and a man who lost his wife and newborn baby. I have seen some live with tremendous pain but yet still give God glory. Life is hard with or without God, but I would rather have Him in the hardships than try to live my life without Him. I have seen those who have gone through the fire be a help and comfort to others who are facing similar situations. One can be a service to another if they will allow God to work in their lives and use the trial and adversity for His honor and glory. God allows trials in our life that He might get the honor and glory, and that we might be a help and blessing to others. We will all go through trials and tribulations, but it is up to us how we respond to these, and if we will get bitter or get better.
In your own struggles, what has God taught you or what is He teaching you that might be a help to others? Have you grown bitter and cold due to the trials of life, or have you allowed God to use the trials to shape and mold you? May we be a blessing and help to those who God brings in our path, and may He get all the honor and glory. We can serve through pain if we will comfort others as we have been comforted by God.