By Dr. Rick McClain

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:2-5, ESV

Recently, I was sitting with a youth worker who was talking to me about the frustrations of ministry. While this worker was talking about the usual problems of teenagers' lack of interest, their inconsistent attendance, and all the while the kids are complaining that most adults don't care, or do not understand them. After a twenty-five minute "rant and dump," this committed leader looked at me as if to say, "Can you offer me any advice?" I simply gazed upon this frustrated, exasperated, and seemingly defeated servant of God and said, "Yes, I do!" I shared my experiences, and my frustrations, and we closed in prayer, tears, and comfort. We walked away in strength: in our belief in God, in our confidence in His call, and strength in our understanding of our relationship.

I love mentoring relationships. I think the concept of a mentoring relationship began in the book of Genesis with God as the Mentor and Adam and Eve the Mentored. I read through the scriptures and see this repeated throughout relationships in the Bible. Some of them are vivid and clear, while others are more discreet. Abraham did not know where he was going, but God guided him. Moses was never alone throughout his 80-year journey in the desert and in the deliverance of Israel, but God was with him. Elijah, after he defeated 400 prophets of Baal, found himself on the mountaintop afraid for his life, yet God was with him, feeding him and taking care of him. Daniel, David, Solomon, Peter, Mark, John, Paul, and Timothy, all had experiences where life was difficult, yet the comfort of God was evident with them.

We seem to be in much need for comfort and affirmation today. Dr. Robert Schuller wrote, Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do. I encourage you to purview the bookshelves in the Christian book store and take note of how many books deal with encouragement, support and guidance. Is it any wonder? The Bible is the First Book of Encouragement.

One thing we fail to remember in all of this is our kids need as much encouragement, comfort and guidance as we do, today, if not more. Tough times reveal more than we can see on the surface. As a teenager is experiencing tough times, they are also experiencing toughening times. They are experiencing joy, love, comfort and confidence-building relationships. But that's not all. They are becoming closer to SOMEONE in the midst of their tough experiences. My only question is, "Are they becoming closer to the God of all Comfort?"

As a youth worker, especially with deaf teens, do you understand that you have been given a gift? Your experiences in life will gift you with the experience of relating with them. Your experience in difficulty will help you in understanding their mindset, and provide for you an open door to beginning a relationship with your kids that will solidify their concept of God - for good and for bad. Your experiences and the responses you give to them become the example by which you teach your kids how to respond to their difficulties. Your experiences become your message of the all-encompassing gift of love and grace that God brings into your life through His comfort, His mentoring of you.

Paul reminds us that God comforts us so that when others need comfort, we can comfort them with the same kind of comfort we have been given.

How has your life been this week? Is your Comfort-Level High? Are you ready to serve? If you are, then be assured that your difficulties will never stop. Rest assured that His comfort to you never fails! I love being in step with you as you personify the God of all Comfort before those to whom you are mentoring! Praying for you. AMEN


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