In his book "The Hungering Dark" Frederick Buechner wrote: "When someone we love suffers, we suffer with that person, and we would not have it otherwise, because the suffering and the love are one, just as it is with God's love for us."
What I believe Buechner is getting at here is the point that part of being a Christian, encompassed in the love of God, is loving others and experiencing life with them fully- both the highs and the lows. When this is lived out within the Church it is a truly beautiful thing.
Seeing this love that suffers with those who suffer is truly an amazing experience and whenever I have privilege of seeing it, I can't help but ask myself how often do I give myself to this type of love even during the hard times of my life? Because even when we are suffering ourselves, it doesn't mean that God no longer expects us to love others in the same way. Suffering doesn't give us a "get out of love free" card that we can hang onto until things get better. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Really, there is no better time when we can truly love than when we are experiencing suffering ourselves.
One of the main reasons being because we can truly understand what the other person is going through. Even though it's not one of the best things to have in common in our minds, it's that common ground that builds a relationship and allows love, God's love, to flow forth.
Maybe that's the reason why many of those who run pregnancy crisis centers have had a crisis pregnancy themselves, or why often those who work with the homeless were first once homeless themselves. I'm not saying this is always the case, but often it is. God uses our life experiences to allow us to love others who are in the same place that we once were or even currently are.
In the end though, the question all comes down to: are we going to allow ourselves to be used of God in this way? It isn't easy to come alongside of someone who is hurting, but it is necessary! God wants to use His people to accomplish His work here in His world. And if we don't do it, He will find someone else who's willing and then we've missed out of being a part of something truly beautiful.