I love to be comfortable. I love the feeling of knowing that things are working out as they should (or as I believe they should). I love not feeling pain of any kind. I love knowing all is well in the world and that it still spins on its proper axis, orbiting around me and all that I wish to see happen in my life.
So it goes without saying that I abhor and vehemently dislike the opposite of comfort: discomfort. I hate discomfort, with a passion. I have great disdain for any season of discomfort. I strongly dislike any sensation of pain, physical, emotional or spiritual. I hate when I’m faced with the reality that my life is actually not fully in my control and that situations and events can happen to me without my permission or agreement. It hurts to know that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me.
Facing this harsh reality makes me sound spoiled and selfish. And that’s because I am. But it also shows something else about me: I’m an idolater. I worship at many temples daily where statues of myself and all that I wish to see happen are erected in my image and my liking, surrounded by my altars where I choose what is the appropriate sacrifice to be killed there. I worship my comfort. I long for it, pursue it, build my life (and the life of others around me if they don’t take notice) to fit and conform to whatever makes me comfortable. In my world, the only sin is to be uncomfortable. And that is a sin I make sure never happens. I sacrifice, I pray, I live for the god of discomfort. And so do a lot other people I know. And it’s killing us all.
2 Corinthians 1 calls God the God of all comfort. Paul used verses 3-5 explain the how the Lord uses our discomfort for His purposes, and for our personal comfort. That’s right; God uses our discomfort to comfort us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
1. God comfort us for the sake of comforting us, period. God is not a fan of discomfort in a sadistic way. He is not, nor has ever been a God who takes delight in the discomfort of His creation who He made in His image. He loves us and Has always loved us before the world was made. So He allows discomfort first to show Himself as the ultimate comforter. Meaning that when I take the role of comforter, I’m actually trying take God’s place. And while that may sound slightly hyperbolic, think about this: can a baby feed itself? Not at first, and while he or she can’t, it is unwise and completely arrogant of said baby to think they have the ability to do something they can’t. And if they choose to not let the loving parent do his or her job, the baby will eventually starve and die. In the same way, we are not autonomous self-made creatures who are capable of doing something without the allowance of a sovereign God. They very breath in our lungs is borrowed and will be taken when God seems fit. If He is sovereign over our life, He must also be sovereign over our comfort.
2. He allows us to experience discomfort so that we can comfort others with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. If you are someone who has personally overcome a difficult and uncomfortable trial by the grace of God, you know the joy of being able to show that hope to someone who is now where you once were. But in order to share in that joy, we must first experience the sadness. Before we can be used to heal, sometimes we have to first be hurt. Discomfort is always a prerequisite for comfort. But this is another way that the Father does not allow our discomfort to be wasted.
3. We become closer to Christ in our discomfort. Paul shows us that as we share in sufferings like Christ did, we share in the comfort He experienced too. Jesus is and was God and will always be. But now the Son of God has flesh and will always have it. He is the perfect human, the type of humanity we were created to be. The second and better Adam. And since He is and was fully human, He experienced true and real human pain and suffering. He is our High Priest who can empathize with us in all things. And discomfort is one of those things. And as we experience discomfort for God’s sake, we are experiencing what our Savior felt. And the promise (and it is a promise) is that if we experience that pain, we will experience the comfort He received. The same Father that comforted Christ, comforts us. The same Spirit that counseled Christ, counsel us. The same angels that ministered to Christ, minister to us. Our discomfort is an opportunity to experience intimacy with our Savior as we are eventually brought into the comfort He was brought into.
The reality is, I still like my comfort and discomfort might always be an enemy I struggle to give God authority over. And although it’s something I’m struggling to be ok with, the truth is that my discomfort is for a purpose. It allows me to see my Father as the only true Comforter, it gives me the opportunity to comfort others and it ushers me into a deeper intimacy with my Savior. And yet, my pendulum still wants to swing towards comfort at all costs. But thank God for the truth. And join me in prayer as I pray that God changes my heart to allow to true Comforter to comfort me at the time He sees fit. He does a way better job than me, anyway.