ODJ: cross-shaped service

August 18, 2015 

READ: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 

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 (v.4).

I was sorry to hear what you’d been through when we last spoke,” my friend Adrian said as we walked. “How are you and Merryn doing now?” “On the whole,” I said, “we’re doing better. I guess we’re trying to focus on the upside of our situation and the opportunities it brings.”

Much had happened since Adrian and I had spoken a year ago. Back then, Merryn and I had been enduring the darkest moment of our lives, bringing our decade-long dream of having a family to an end. Merryn had been devastated, and we had relocated to the UK from Australia to start again.

“I can understand that,” Adrian replied. “But looking for the opportunities in your situation will take you only so far.” As we walked a little further, Adrian talked about the harsh realities Jesus faced as He embraced the cross—something that didn’t lead Him to think of Himself. “He did something else entirely,” Adrian said. “Sheridan, have you ever noticed how many people Jesus ministered to as He hung on the cross?”

Adrian ran down the list. On the cross Jesus ministered to His mother by putting her into John’s care (John 19:26-27), to a thief hanging next to Him (Luke 23:39-43), to the people who crucified Him (vv.33-34), to a Roman centurion (v.47; Matthew 27:54) and to all of us by forgiving our sins through His sacrifice.

“All of this was done in the middle of His suffering,” Adrian added, “before things got better at His resurrection.” I had never seen it like that before.

“There may be some benefits in your being childless,” Adrian said, “but at times you’ll find it lonely and difficult. Yet out of your suffering will come opportunities to serve people in ways you otherwise never could.”

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day-plan: John 11:1-36

Read Hebrews 4:15-16 and consider how Jesus understands our suffering and what He tells us to do when we’re in the midst of it. 
What comfort has God given you in the past that you can share with others? How might God use your pain so that you can serve people better today?