“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NRSV).
We, in our cultures, might not think much of the word “consolation” as we attach to it the receipt of prizes. Everyone wants first place, not the consolation prize. But God’s consolation is worlds different. It’s everything to the lowly.
Consolation is also a basis for belief, for how much better a sign of God’s love is this comfort that the Spirit offers? It’s the very reason many of us believe, or came to believe, in the first place.
God is made real by the solace we experience in our problems, issues and hellish realities.
But this consolation has a more definitive purpose.
Consolation of Others
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” says the Apostle Paul, elsewhere, in Romans 12:15 (NRSV).
One of the bases of our belief in God is that the relief we experience is to be experienced by others in their plights.
We’re to be open to people who suffer, so we might deliver for them copious portions of the genuine compassion of Jesus—no matter where they find themselves. The imperative of Romans 12:15 is not conditional; it’s how we’re to operate as disciples of Christ.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with evangelisation. Compassion has no strings.
The Empathy of Consolation
One of the incredibly difficult contrasts of faith is empathy. Someone who’s never needed this consolation of God—who hasn’t experienced that deep comfort—cannot possibly know the depth of it, so as to offer it through themselves via the Holy Spirit to someone else.
This is the blessing that suffering delivers to those who’ve suffered, for they’ve lived the compassion of God. It’s become visceral to who they are.
For those who’ve not suffered to such a vast extent—and these too are fortunate—should not feel bad for not knowing that depth of empathy; theirs is a different call. They can still be compassionate, but at accord with their experience, for everyone should be authentic to whom they are.
If we’ve suffered, it’s for this reason; to help others. Later, we understand it.
If you’re suffering, there’s a purpose to it; one that in time, when all’s understood, you’ll be supremely thankful for—that God traversed the path with you, holding you steady by his consolation.
The consolation of God becomes the foundation from which all of the rest of our lives springs from. It really is Spiritual gold.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.