Hard times happen. They do. They happen to good people and not so good people. They happen to tall people and short people. They happen to Muslims and Christians. They happen. And when they happen we can either let them knock us down and cause us to wallow in the mire or we can get back up, shake the dirty stuff off and press on. Either decision is difficult. But only one choice brings life. My friend said something to me a while back that hasn’t left me. He said, “There is nothing sadder in the human condition than unredeemed suffering.” Unfortunately, not everyone does something with their pain. Many get hardened by it and understandably so. Pain hurts and sometimes it takes every bit of energy to even toss the covers aside and get out of bed. Been there. But as you push through the pain and begin to see how it can make your future different, better even, you will begin to experience a newness of life. One that you never imagined possible in light of what you just walked through. And it only happened because you showed courage, which is just fear choosing to take a step forward, and decided that you would not be taken out. That you would, indeed, use your pain to contribute to society. Maybe you’ve struggled with infertility and were ministered to by another woman who walked the same route, never conceived and chose to trust God through the heart-wrenching pain she endured. And because she knows your pain all too well, she helped you. Talked you through the harder days and laughed with you on the easier ones. Maybe you lost a child and never dreamed you’d see the light of day again. But someone came sweeping in and brought comfort to you all because they’ve been there. They walked that road and although missing their child never goes away, they have found a way to trust again. To hope again. To live again. And they helped you do the same. Maybe your marriage was in jeopardy, near death, and a couple jumped up and began to walk you through your struggles. One day at a time. All because they’d been there…they’d been at the place when they were ready to throw in the towel and never look back. But they didn’t and now you are grateful because it helped you. If someone has been that to you, that encouragement in the midst of a storm, will you take a minute today to thank them? Not tomorrow or next week or even next month. Today. Tell them how much you appreciate them for helping you with your pain. It’ll mean the world to them. Guarantee it.