David W. Dillon

Superintendent, Appalachian District

© 2012


SOFT IN THE MIDDLE! Though this thought crosses my mind mainly about my middle-aged body every time I look in the mirror or see a picture of myself, that reality isn't what I'm thinking of today. Actually Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 form the basis of my exclamation: “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort. He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” Wow! How great is that?

Recently a high school sports injury of nearly 35 years ago (misdiagnosed at the time) flared up and had me in constant pain for six months, making it very difficult to walk. When I couldn't stand it any longer I consulted a specialist who diagnosed the problem and told me that surgery was the only fix. What was supposed to have been a modest two-week recovery period instead turned into a worst-case scenario of six weeks on crutches, using a walker and wearing a knee-length boot-cast. (During the operation the internal damage was discovered to be worse than suspected.) Thank God for a loving wife and caregiver afterward!

What does this have to do with soft in the middle? That's easy for me to answer. The challenges I faced after my operation in doing simple things that I don't even give a passing thought to when I'm well (moving around the house, traversing stairs and steps, getting dressed, navigating public places, etc.) made me sympathetic to those who struggle with such things—and many experiencing much greater—on a daily basis. (Thankfully, my situation was only temporary.) Going through my season of difficulty caused me to be more compassionate to those who face challenges much greater than mine of immobility. Simply put, I've gotten soft (considerate) in the middle of my time of pain and discomfort.

In life—and yes, even ministry—all of us go through some hard times and difficult circumstances. When this happens, let's do our best to remember Paul's words and to look for the comfort that God has promised to give in those moments. That comfort will give us the strength to endure and overcome—but that's not all! That same comfort will then be ours to give to others in their time of similar need, to those God has called us to minister to and to whom we are to be His representatives (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Friend, don't get hard in the middle of life's trials, get soft in the middle! You'll not only be blessed then, you will be a blessing. And I promise, it will make your troubles worthwhile, turning something negative in your life into an incredible Kingdom positive (Romans 8:28).