In affliction you have the opportunity to draw closer to Christ, to His pain, to His cross and thus to His comfort, all by the hand of the loving Father. There’s a fellowship there in the midst of suffering and affliction that produces a kind of strength that nothing else can. This strength is rooted in Christ and in the camaraderie of our faith together in Jesus.
Communities who suffer tragedy will come together; they will rally, pray for the hurting and comfort one another through the pain until morning comes and the sorrow is a little more bearable. And each one who experiences the trial gets to cling to one another and grow deeper as a body of people.
Their affliction actually becomes the source of deeper faith and growth in the hands of a providential God.
The cross, too, provides a place of commonality for all Christians, a place to go to, a source of strength in both good and bad times. When we go through something hard we have the confidence that Christian trials are really a community effort under Christ. Christian suffering is the most God-glorifying because the believer who suffers affliction finds His identity in the Christ who suffered; the One who suffered and died for sin, to kill sin and bring everlasting life.
“When one member suffers we all suffer.” And Christ, being the Head of the body suffered first for our example. God will allow and use even the greatest affliction so that the whole might be strengthened and solidified in faith, and with that, come to know not just momentary, but lasting comfort.
It’s true that the comfort is hardly immediate, but God is faithful. The purposes of our afflictions are rarely easy to see until hindsight is in view. Then, when you begin to breathe again and brush away the dirt and blood from the previous season, God will remind you of His strength that finds perfection in weakness. He will gently remind you that in a world where tragedy and affliction is inevitable, His grace is deeper still.
“We don’t seek tears, but they will indeed come from the Father’s Hand. And they will come so that we might be prepared to accomplish His will in our lives and in the lives of others.” – Tozer