2 CORIN. 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
I think the greatest team builder in the world is suffering. My closest football teams have been teams that experienced some type of shared pain. None of us want it that way and we want to avoid it as much as possible. But at the end of the year, we got enjoyed good times when we celebrated, but we grew together when we cried or hurt. Football pain, whether it is a hard practice, a tough loss, or physical injury, is often used by God as a ‘strange minister’ in our lives- producing fruit of perseverance and love.
I’m not exactly why this is true. It may be the first time we see one another without masks or we see how much individual’s truly care- but pain is a useful tool in forging a team of one heroic purpose. That is one reason why I push them so hard in summer camp- they have to experience hardship to break down all the barriers to brotherhood.
The above passage contains that same sentiment. When pain comes, we should be urgent and diligent to support each other and comfort one another. The best comfort is time and understanding. It is not an easy road. We recite the words, but it is hard to live them. I never really ever want to preach to my team following a loss- it is usually a one on one evaluation of who needs support the most. It is a time to seek out the injured and quietly stand with those that are taking it the hardest.
When we receive God’s comfort, it helps us to be sensitive to others in similar pain. We have had a of injuries this season- I think we have 8 starters out. We have an outstanding senior leader on our team this year in Landon Scott. He had an unfortunate injury this summer that has prevented him from playing a large part of his senior year. Landon is the hardest working player on our team and we were all saddened by the news of this injury. To his credit, he gave thanks to God and has served our team well since then. He is a source of inspiration and encouragement.
In our football creed we have a line that says: “We suffer together so that we WILL persevere together”- which is related to Romans 5:3,4 which says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
When we suffer and comfort, we eventually heal. That healing produces unity and strength. If you ever have to compete against a team with this type of unity- look out- it may be a tough night!
If you are hurting, go comfort others. If you see someone hurting, comfort them. You will reap a great harvest of hope!