Our Life Is A Ministry

Note: This is one of my very favorite articles Jack has written! And it means something new to me now. I thank the God of all comfort, for the words I have received from those of you who have also lost a spouse/partner/best friend (for Jack was all three, and more, to me). I will treasure them always. There is something powerful in knowing and feeling you are not alone in your sorrows.

Commentary by Jack Kelley

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

Are You In Ministry?

To me the passage above means that our life is intended to be a ministry and our sorrows are our credentials. Someday, somewhere, perhaps when you least expect it, someone will cross your path; someone who is experiencing the very same difficulty you yourself have experienced. The comfort you received during your time of affliction, and the lessons you gained from it, are now yours to pass along.  No one else will be in as good a position to minister to this person, because only you have “been there and done that.”  Having survived the same ordeal you will have two powerful tools for ministry; credibility and perspective.

Two recent experiences led me to write this message. Although they both bear testimony to the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, one is an example of the success that came from applying it and the other describes the failure to do so. (Note: This article was originally posted in 2003.)

First The Success

A friend had invited me to lunch and asked me what my current article was going to be about. I told him I had two possibilities, but the one I preferred was frustrating me because I hadn’t found a way to put it into the proper context. “Tell me what it’s about,” he said. He knew that events in my recent past had affected me profoundly, and having endured the same kind of difficulty himself, he had asked me to lunch to offer his support. He correctly assumed that getting me to talk about my writing would be helpful, and so it was. As I told the story, the scripture above came suddenly and clearly into my mind. It was the missing piece I needed to finally grasp the underlying context of my article.  I stopped to thank the Lord and my friend, and for a moment we both found it hard to speak as we silently acknowledged the Lord’s involvement in our conversation.

And Now the Failure

The failure concerns the story I was telling my friend about the article I was trying to write.  The topic was an opportunity I had missed to help someone through a difficult time.

25 years previously, my family’s business had been in real trouble; so much so that we had to sell it fast and cheap to avoid losing everything. (We had already lost a lot.) It was a well-known business and the whole community knew what had happened.

Some time later, while talking with an acquaintance, I discovered he was having similar problems in his business. As we talked, he asked me how I had gotten through my own ordeal.  In retrospect I can see it was a divine appointment, but at the time I just blew him off.  I stuck to the story I had fabricated to protect my pride, that we had simply sold the family business and had actually made out quite well. We both knew I was lying but I ignored the look of disappointment on his face. I chose not to see that he desperately needed someone to talk to, someone who understood and could help him through his time of trouble.

Shortly thereafter, his business closed and he and his partner suffered a huge loss. For 25 years I never thought about it again until that day when I was searching for something to write about.  Out of the blue the Lord reminded me of the opportunity I had missed.  As I replayed it in my mind I knew I should write about it, but I didn’t know why until He gave me 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

Let’s be clear about this.  It was an opportunity I and I alone had missed.  The Lord doesn’t miss opportunities. It’s only we who miss out when we decline to participate.

In the Book of Esther God had Esther’s uncle Mordecai make this same point.  The Jews were facing an extinction order and Esther, who was both Jewish and the Queen of Persia, was asked to intercede for them.  When she reminded her uncle that approaching the King without being summoned would put her very life at risk, he replied,

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

The crowning achievement of our Christian life could be a single instance of comforting someone else with the comfort we have received.  If we fail to respond, the Lord will bring someone else to do the job, and we’ll miss out.  And that’s what happened in my case.  Some one else comforted that young man. Someone else gave him the courage to accept his losses and start over.  I don’t know if that person became a life long friend like I could have been, but I will never forget the name of the man I failed to comfort with the comfort I had received. You would know it too, if I told you, because he’s now a famous fashion designer.

Pride Goeth Before The Fall

My pride prevented me from seizing an opportunity for ministry the Lord had placed before me, and for which I was uniquely qualified. My pride deprived me of a friendship that could have had a powerful impact on both our lives.

My lunch companion had listened to the Lord and comforted me with the comfort he had received.  To him I say thanks for asking me to lunch that day.  But I had failed to do so for the one who needed my comfort.  To him I say please forgive me for not listening when you needed me. I’m glad someone else was more considerate. To the Lord I say thanks for bringing me the lesson, and to you I say that I hope reading this will make you more attentive when the time comes for you to comfort someone with the comfort you yourself have received from God.  11-13-13

Note: Have you been comforted in your sorrows by someone who has been there? Are you in need of comfort now? Please share in the comments below so that we can rejoice, and pray and comfort you together.

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  • poorfarmboy

    Samantha, please permit me to share a piece from Max Lucado that I have found to be a great comfort to me –

    Martha sat in a damp world, cloudy, tearful. And Jesus sat in it with her. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again” (John 11:25 NLT)

    Hear those words in a Superman-like tone, if you like. Clark Kent descending from nowhere, ripping shirt and popping buttons to reveal the “S” beneath. “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE…” Do you see a Savior with Terminator tenderness bypassing the tears of Mary and Martha and, in doing so, telling them and all grievers to buck up and just trust?

    I don’t.

    I don’t because of what Jesus does next. He weeps. He sits on the pew between Mary and Martha, puts an arm around each, and sobs. Among the three, a tsunami of sorrow is stirred; a monsoon of tears is released. Tears that reduce to streaks the watercolor conceptions
    of a cavalier Christ. Jesus weeps.

    He weeps with them.
    He weeps for them.
    He weeps with you.
    He weeps for you.
    He weeps so we will know. Mourning is not disbelieving. Flooded eyes don’t represent a faithless heart. A person can enter a cemetery certain of life after death and still have a massive crater in their heart. Christ did. He wept, and He knew He was only ten minutes from seeing a living Lazarus again!

    And His tears give you permission to shed your own. Grief does not mean you don’t trust; it simply means you can’t stand the thought of another day without the Lazarus … or Jack of
    your life. If Jesus gave love, He understands the tears. So grieve…. but don’t grieve like those who don’t know the rest of the story.

    -Max Lucado, Next Door Savior

  • TexasTwig

    In 2006, my mother succumbed to cancer. She was 62. We had prayed for 2 years for physical healing. But it took her passing for me to grasp that she was now perfectly healed, that the Lord loves her more than I, and that I was too attached to this life. It wasn’t ‘goodbye’. It was ‘I’ll see you in a bit”. Precious In the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Ps. 116:15. Her passing taught me to keep focused on kingdom work and my savior.

  • Charlon Williams

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Cor. 1:3-5) These verses are the basis of the ministry that God brings into my life. When I was young, and a new Christian I discovered that I suffered from mental illness that resulted in depression and anxiety. The symptoms were low self esteem and the pain of rejection. God revealed to me that my self esteem is found in Him and that He paid the ultimate price for me. Jack called it “Creator based self-esteem” and he wrote an article called “The Source of Self Esteem”- 10-10-2015. (“The world accepts us because of appearance, achievement or performance”; but God accepts us because of our righteousness in Christ Jesus that we received thru faith by the grace of God.
    It was 49 years ago when God revealed to me that I am totally accepted in Him because of my faith in Jesus; and He is ultimately the only one I need to please. Mental illness is not well received in the world and also not understood in the church. God has brought some to me who need the compassion and comfort that I received from Him and His compassion overflows from my life. I have been blessed that the anti-depressant that controls the chemical imbalance of my brain has no real side affects and by God’s grace and mercy works for me along with the truth of God’s word in giving me the joy and peace of God that passes understanding. He has also filled me with gratitude for His healing power. We should never take for granted our physical or mental well being, but be thankful to God for all that He has given us.

    Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
    (James 1:17)

    The Lord Bless, Charlon

  • Jan

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My husband–pastor and best friend–of 33 yrs was killed 4 years ago. Words don’t ever fix it, but our foundational rock of assurance in our blessed blessed hope gives us a place to nest as we heal. Thank you for your faith llived out through this ministry.


  • Jan

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My husband–pastor and best friend–of 33 yrs was killed 4 years ago. Words don’t ever fix it, but our foundational rock of assurance in our blessed blessed hope gives us a place to nest as we heal. Thank you for your faith llived out through this ministry.


  • Carol Diane Huggins

    May God bless you and comfort you always, and especially when you find yourself in the deepest valley of grief. Thank you for sharing your husband’s time with all of us. It seems we will all be together soon, in the presence of our Lord. ” O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

  • Wayne

    In my heart and mind and I am sure in yours as well, Jack Kelley is more alive today than he ever was in this life. What a comfort that is and must be to you and to all of his brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

  • Houtex77

    I was not aware of his passing. When did this happen? There was mention on this on the prophecy update page, but I didn’t see anything about his death. One of the many joys of Christianity is knowing that we’ll be with our departed love ones for all of eternity.

  • maxine

    Dear Sister Samantha, I too went through the experience of losing my husband of 32 years (almost 9 yrs. ago). He was only 54, healthy and an active pastor. If I had to give you or anyone advice it would be not to do what I did. We had four grown children. I immediately knew I had to be strong for them emotionally and for their faith. (my reasoning) So I put on a continual act of being strong. If memories came to mind, I would brush them away as they would make me weak. I wanted my children and the world to see how God had given me the faith and strength to carry on. It was a tremendous mistake. First, I don’t think I had fooled my children and may have hampered their ability to mourn in my presence. Secondly, I didn’t take the proper time to mourn and it resulted in my being constantly filled with fear and anxiety. Instead of putting on an act I should have been honest with God and my children. Yes, it hurts; no, I don’t understand why; no I don’t know what I’m going to do; yes, I’m frightened. By not being honest I hurt myself, my children and just know I disappointed God. The life I presented to the world was a lie and I paid a high price – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I know God has forgiven me and our family is becoming stronger because of his faithfulness and love but I could have spared all of us by going to the Lord and honestly laying all my burdens and care upon Him. I feel sure you know all of this all ready but wanted to share, just in case. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Roberta

    What helped me through my time of grief was the Lord Himself and when it became very hard for me, He caused me to remember the good times, the fun times, the precious moments and I would thank Him for it-for the season I had with my loved one and I would say in my heart though tears where in my eyes, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

  • AmCart

    Samantha, I lost my husband to suicide 4 years ago. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a believer. The pain isn’t less when you lose someone to cancer but at least you have the cancer to blame (not to downplay cancer or lessen your experience. Loss is loss no matter the cause). But suicide? How do you get past that? I was mad at him and mad at the world. Mad at depression and I had no one to blame. No one to point the finger at. And Christians?! Oh they were the worse (sorry brethren but, you were). But, as dark as that time was, it was bittersweet. Yes I was grieving and yes I missed my husband but, I was so close to God at that time! He truly was carrying me through and constantly by my side. I could feel his presence more then than I had ever felt before. I felt like I could literally reach out and touch Him. Through tears I would tell Him that I didn’t understand but that I trusted Him and that I knew He loved my husband more than me (also praise and worship was paramount. When everything seemed like it was too much, I would go off alone and listen to praise and worship and cry and just surrender). It renewed my faith and it gave me a greater understanding of grace and mercy and Jack helped get me there as well. I devoured everything on this website and his clarification on OSAS truly helped me heal. I believe that God lead me here at that time to help me grieve and grow and move on. As God told me, “keep your eyes on me” and I did. And as crazy as it may sound, I actually miss that period of my life sometimes. We get so busy that we sometimes forget to stop and spend quality time with our first love. Our God is so loving and caring and compassionate and amazing and although I’m sure you miss Jack, just keep your eyes on Him and let Him carry you through. Feel every bit of your grief and deal with it fully and rest in His comfort. He is amazing and he’ll see you through. And I hope that once you are on the other side of your grief you are able to look back and see God was by your side the whole time. It isn’t easy and it isn’t quick. You’ll miss Jack every day of your life but how amazing is it to think that he’ll be waiting with arms outstretched to greet you when you make it to heaven!? And we’re so close! We are SOOOOOOO close! Like Jack always said – “you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.” Blessings, 😊.

  • Alayne Archer

    Dear Samantha,
    I am praying for you, fellow sister in Christ. I too am a widow and am mourning my husband’s sudden unexpected heart attack 4 years ago at the age of 62, this week(Nov. 5). But with hope, because of our Lord’s promises and he continues to walk with me during this grief journey. I was led to grief support 6 months after Ed’s death. I and a group of widows/widowers stayed for a year and a half after building fast, supporting friendships and now socialize together and still support each other as we travel this road of our new normal.
    I also worked with a Cornerstone Hospice counselor, which was very helpful for the 8 months that she was available at my church.
    This website and your husband’s knowledge, insight, and obvious love of The Lord have meant a lot to me. I have learned so much from his Bible studies and Q&A. Other websites that have helped me in this walk of widowhood are: A Widow’s Might, a faith based site and Hope For The Broken-Hearted with Debbie Kay, also Christian site.
    I have my loving family of 2 children, son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren, which I thank God for everyday.
    My relationship with Christ Jesus is so much more intimate than it ever was before. He is my Bridegroom. I am just sorry that it took my husband’s passing to bring me here to Him, but am joyful to be in His presence.
    God bless you and you and yours are in my prayers.

  • Patty Vasseur

    Thank you for updating on how you are doing. You and your family have been in my prayers.
    I truly appreciate this ministry.
    Patty Vasseur