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The Power Of Personal Experience

I read recently, “the courage it takes to share your story might be the very thing

someone else needs to open their heart to hope.” By reflecting on our life, we may find ways to

inspire others and give them hope by sharing a personal experience. None of us are an island

unto ourselves and community is a mainstay for each of us. Am grateful I have friends that are

widows who have shared their experience and wisdom to help me on this very different

journey of grief. We are not meant to go through anything totally alone.

St. Paul in writing this in 2 Corinthians, praises God for providing comfort and then

shares moments when he felt desperate and depressed, v8-11. His point is that our own

sufferings enable us to identify with those who suffer and enable them to identify with us. Then

they will sense the reality of the comfort we have received from God and find their own

comfort. The principle is important. Ministry requires vulnerability. Our human frailties, which

make us susceptible to suffering, at the same time enable us to display God’s comforting love.

Only when we show our weaknesses can we also reveal the strength of our Lord.

Interestingly, we do not usually care to show our weaknesses and a dear friend often

reminds me that I am human! In the Bible Reader’s Companion, discussing verses 8-11, “It’s

only human when attacked to defend by pointing to our strengths. Instead, Paul freely shares

his weaknesses! It is amazing to see the apostle speak of being under pressure ’beyond our

ability to endure.’ Paul knows he must rely on God to cause a change of heart.” As caretakers,

we have a model and wonderful comfort for us in these verses. St. Paul thanks God for His

special goodness during recent trials. His suffering has had two wholly good side-effects – the

experience of God’s comfort in it all and a new ability to help and comfort those in similar


When our discouragement and despair seek to envelope us, remember the words of

these restorative verses from the Prophet Jeremiah, written during a time of exile and hardship

for the Israelites. Jeremiah 31:3, “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept My mercy

toward you.” Jeremiah 30:17, “For I will restore your health; I will heal your injuries – oracle of

the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:13, “Then young women shall make merry and dance, young men and

old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will show them compassion and have them

rejoice after their sorrows.” Jeremiah 31:17, “There is hope for your future–oracle of the Lord-

Your children shall return to their own territory.”

Our faithful Lord asks us to trust one moment at a time. Do you believe, God does not


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