The Bible tells us that one of the reasons we experience hardship is so “that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (I Corinthians 1:4) In other words, we can expect to be in places where pressure is mounting and distress is great. We shouldn’t be surprised when trials are long and desperate. God has purposed that they produce “patient endurance” in us. What will make the difference in these experiences is how you minister to others afterwards (or even during). Will you minister from a place of hardness where there is no compassion, or comfort? Or, will you love them from a place of brokenness?
In Genesis 33 Jacob returns to Canaan and is reunited with his estranged brother Esau. They had not seen each other for over 20 years. Jacob returns with obvious evidence of God’s blessings – flocks, herds, wives, children, etc. However, he’s also coming back with an injury. In Genesis 32:24 we are told, “And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.” Jacob survived the encounter but only after his hip was supernaturally “put out of joint.” As a consequence, Jacob would have a limp for the rest of his life.
Upon their reunion, Esau pleads with Jacob to return with him. Jacob declines. He tells his brother in essence, “You go on ahead. As for me, I can’t go any faster than the weak and the frail that are with me. “
In the kingdom of God there will always be people who for one reason or another, lag behind. They are weaker, slower, and frailer than the rest. Jacob’s injury brought him to a place of humility. Never again would he forge ahead in youthful pride and power. Instead he would limp alongside the weak and the feeble.