Looking for Comfort in an Uncomfortable World
Americans, perhaps more than any other society, resist any form of discomfort. We are raised to understand our rights and what we can demand. With abundant material convenience, easements become needs rather than wants. The noble idea of the pursuit of happiness has transformed in our psyche into a desire to shield ourselves from any trouble in life.
Perhaps the most universal reaction to displeasure is complaining. Grousing has become a right, while defining much of our conversation. We complain about our bills, our health, our bad breaks, our marriages, how people treat us. If our things break or don't work like we want them to, griping is quick to our lips. Complaints about our government and institutions fill the airwaves. We respond with visceral emotion as if entitled to an intrinsic privilege to be free of any challenges. In our minds, something is terribly wrong if we are not somehow gratified.
Some seek comfort in life, or at least the lack of distress, by self-medicating. Drugs, alcohol, prescription abuse, or a myriad of diversions and entertainments promise temporary distraction. There are many challenges of stress, along with ways of promising to ease it. The destruction and hold on us compound the problem. The pull of their appeal is nevertheless very strong.
When we see discomfort as an offense itself, blame rears its head. Enmity has become the energy of social discourse. Someone must be held responsible. With punishment and apologies demanded, we seek appeasement so we can feel safe and comfortable again. Is our over-vigilant sensitivity to tolerance issues, political correctness, or our raging against any contrary opinion other than our own a desire to never be uncomfortable? The wish to ward off unpleasantness has become so acute to the modern mind as to reshape an entire worldview. By removing absolute truth, we deflect the understanding we are sinners or that any of the problems of life lie with us at all.
Should we resign ourselves to a drudgery of dejection? Are we alone and left to our own devices? We do not need to be. If we allow our experiences to be in the hands of God, rather than our own, we are free to address life’s situations in His strength. What God will do in the midst of hardship softens our resistance to it. Fruitlessly fighting or complaining about difficulty only makes matters worse.
In Christ, trials are the chief way God enables us to grow. Through them, He brings beauty and transformation, for our good. With God's loving grace, we experience transcendence beyond focus on ease. It becomes an opportunity to know Him more. Our concentration turns to the wonderful character of God and the joy we can realize by devoting ourselves to Him. There will never be a time we will say, "God please bring me more trouble so I can grow close to you". No one enjoys pain. We discover, however, that God is always what we need. Ever more of God, more of Jesus Christ.
Since there is no way to avoid all discomfort or adversity, we need not allow these experiences to go to waste, using up precious mental and emotional energy. By offering it to our Father, in trust that He has our best in mind, we are free to receive the joy of His love in the midst of painful trials. If we have taken the step to surrender our life to Christ, what a sure promise to hold onto, even when things get tough. It is then that abundant blessings await us in Jesus Himself.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27.
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